Poorly cooked chicken makes me want to throw furniture. Really. Dry chicken should be a crime, like the Hague should investigate. It’s not hard to make truly moist and tasty chicken. But it’s amazing the number of times I’ve been subject to a dry piece of meat foisted upon me. Unfortunate at best.
I try to make a whole chicken whenever I have a recipe that’s chicken based. There’s a few reasons for that. First, it’s cheaper. Buying a whole chicken and cooking it, then breaking it down, always makes for meat for everyone dollar for dollar. Second, I get to make some homemade chicken stock. I’m always happy to be presented with a carcass. What’s better than free chicken stock. And thirdly, it’s always more moist and more tasty when you make a whole bird. Well that’s my take at least. I can buy a free range four pound bird for six bucks. That’s cheap eats. No way around it. It’s also incredibly easy to make. And I have never screwed up a little bird, ever. Even a little over-cooked and they are just dripping moisture. I can’t imagine what people do to these when they present something that’s sawdust dry. What gives?
I always wash my bird before i do anything else. Well that’s a lie, actually. Empty out the cavity, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get inside. Gizzard, chicken liver, it’s always a surprise. Sometimes it’s just stuffed in there, sometimes it’s missing, sometimes they are in a plastic pouch. Anyway you look at, you want it empty. Then give it a good rinsing, cold water, inside and out. Just make sure it looks clean. Then dry it off really well, I just use paper towel.
You can bake a chicken in just about anything. I use either a Pyrex that’s just a bit larger than the bird (not too crowded,) or sometimes my enameled dutch oven. Anything along those lines is great. Drizzle some olive oil on top of your chosen bird. You don’t have to douse it, just a bit or taste. I sprinkle my herbs on top, a good helping of sea salt, pepper, maybe a little rosemary, and a light sprinkling of paprika. That’s it.
At this point it needs to get into the oven. You want a preheated oven, somewhere between 425 and 450 degrees F. Pop it in, somewhere around the middle to upper portion of the oven. You’ll want to pull it out a few times during cooking and just spoon the juices over the top of the bird. I use a silicone brush to pick it up the juices and spread a nice shiny coat on. That’ll make a nice tasty, crispy skin. It’ll need to be in the oven somewhere on the order of an hour and a half (for a found pound bird.) There’s no good rule on this. The easiest way to figure out when it’s done is to check it with a thermometer. Stick it in the deepest part of the breast, you want it to read 160 degrees F, once you pull it out it should carry up the last 5 degrees or so to 165 degrees F that’s considered safe. Let it rest maybe 5 minutes once it comes (because as you well know – food gets tired in the oven.)
You will be amazed what a great piece of chicken this produces. It’s good just cut up and served, it’s great shredded into any recipe that requires chicken, oh – and it’ll make the best chicken stock you’ve ever used, bar none (more on that in another post).
PS – I have no idea why my chicken has a neck….that’s something that happens once in a while….dunno what gives with that. The spices are approximate below, so adjust according to the size of the bird and to your taste.
- A Four Pound Whole Chicken
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
- 1/2 Teaspoon Rosemary