If you have been following me for awhile, you know that roasting a whole chicken was not a skill that came easily to me. I ruined more chickens than I can count on one hand. However, now that I have the process down, I'm not sure what my problem was.
I take that back. I know what my problem was. I made every mistake in the book. These mistakes include:
1. Cooking the chicken upside down.
2. Cooking the chicken in the crockpot (hello dry chicken!).
3. Putting a too cold chicken in the oven.
4. Using an unreliable meat thermometer.
5. Not having the experience to know that the silly bird is not going to cook another 10 degrees after you take it out of the oven. You'll maybe get another 5 degrees.
Personally, I'm happy I made all these mistakes. That's how I learn. You could give me a book on roasting chicken, tell me to study the technique, turn me loose, and be shocked at how little I've retained. There's just something about getting your hands dirty, and making those mistakes so you have the results of those mistakes right in your face. "Ohhhh. So that's why they cook the bird breast up." The mistakes I've made have just solidified my chicken roasting routine, which includes letting the bird get to room temperature before pre-roast, using a trusty thermometer, and cooking the bird to at least 160º. Now, almost every bird comes out perfect. There was a bird about a month ago that I'm chalking up to mistake #4. I've since gotten a new thermometer :)
Chicken dinners are super simple around here. Most of the time I roast some potatoes and carrots with the bird, but since Spring is upon us, I chose to serve it this time with a spinach, strawberry, and gorgonzola salad.
Here's what I do with my raw chicken. After I take the innards out, wash it, and dry it, I brush it with a little olive oil. I take copious amounts of crushed garlic (I like to use Trader Joe's Crushed Garlic, but you can DEF make your own) and rub it all the bird. I take a sharp knife and make slits all over the bird. Make sure and rub the crushed garlic into the slits. The crushed garlic really perfumes the meat, especially the thigh meat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and get that bird in the oven. Assuming it's room temperature of course. I can't emphasize enough how important the temperature of the bird is. If you put a cold bird in the oven, you'll end up with dry breast meat and thigh meat that's verging on raw. Not good. Cook that chicken to exactly 160º, let it rest for 30-45 minutes, and then, dig in! The chicken skin will be crispy and delicious, but also removable. We eat the chicken skin sometimes, but definitely not often. Most of the time it flavors my broths. Either way, if you have a household of 2, like me, you'll have plenty of leftover chicken for weeknight cooking. Leftovers you could use for soup, sandwiches, salads, pastas, etc. Having precooked chicken makes weeknight cooking the biggest snap.
I really can't advocate roasting your own chickens enough. They are cheap (whole chicken is usually $0.88/lb at my grocery store), you know exactly what's going on the chicken and how it's cooking, and these chickens are usually bigger than the rotisserie ones the deli sells. It makes your house smell delicious while it's roasting. And let's face it, who's not excited to come home to a perfectly cooked chicken? No one in my house!
All right, Jessica out. I've got cookies to bake, and they be calling my name!
Happy Hump Day everyone!
1- whole chicken (approximately 5-6 lbs)
olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper
1. Make sure chicken is defrosted. If frozen, allow to unfreeze by putting the bird in the fridge for 24 hours. Allow the chicken to come to room temp before cooking by placing, covered, on the counter for 2-3 hours. I like to season my bird during this time period, so I will remove the innards and discard, then wash and rinse my bird. Place the bird in a roasting pan. I pat it dry, and then brush a little olive oil over the bird. Take a sharp knife and make slits all over the bird. Take the crushed garlic, and rub it onto the bird. Make sure to rub lots of garlic into the slits you made. Season the bird with salt and pepper. Cover the bird tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to come to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 400º. Remove wrap from chicken. Place chicken in the oven. Cook the bird for 1 1/2- 2 hours, basting with its own juices every 30 minutes. After 90 minutes, stick a meat thermometer into one of the chicken's thighs away from the bone. The chicken is done when it reaches 160º. Remove the chicken from the oven, and place on a cutting board. Tent the chicken loosely with foil, and allow to rest for 30-45 minutes.
3. Carve the chicken, and serve immediately.