Here at Home Ec 101 we get a lot of questions on how to stretch those grocery dollars. One of my personal favorites is to buy a whole chicken. You can get a lot of bang for your buck with one of these, just make sure you don’t buy one injected with anything over 5% sodium solution; it burns me up to pay for water.
The chicken in today’s example was 5lbs, and I’ll be using it for three meals. Also the bones will later be used for homemade stock. It is important to consider seasonings carefully when deciding on the future use of the bird. In this example, I have the original meal, chicken salad, and a stir fry. With this in mind, I chose not go crazy with an exotic rub. However, spice rubs can be fun, and I will link to several of my favorites after the recipe.
When preparing roast chicken, I first preheat the oven to 350. I then remove the bird from its packaging and give it a quick rinse. Some cooks claim this is unnecessary, but it gives me a chance to give the meat a good once over and remove any missed pin feathers.
Never forget to remove the giblets! I don’t eat them, but some people swear giblet gravy is the only way to go. I’ll leave that to your discretion.
Do not forget to sanitize your sink and nearby counters after rinsing raw chicken. This is a common point of cross-contamination.
We’ll tackle gravy on another day.
Slather the chicken with 1 – 2 TBSP of olive oil. Don’t be scared to use your hands and get all of the crevices. The fat is what keeps the bird moist and ensures basting is unnecessary. Rub the bird with your choice of spices. The chicken in the picture above example was rubbed with Chef Paul Prudhomme Blackened Redfish Magic, one of my favorite seasoning blends. (I served the meal with baked sweet potatoes, roasted carrots and onions, and dressing.)
Place the chicken in a heavy roasting pan or large casserole dish. Make sure the pan is deep enough to contain two or three cups of liquid in addition to the bird and any vegetables. Typically, I like to add potatoes, carrots, and onions to the pan. As a final touch, I usually add a few slices of onion and a sliced clove of garlic to the cavity.
The vegetables will absorb some of the juices and a lot of flavor from the chicken. Be careful to not overload your pan, a crowded pan can increase the cook time.
The bird will need to be roasted for approximately twenty minutes per pound. Check on the bird occasionally (with the light, not by opening the door), if the skin starts to brown too quickly, tent the bird with aluminum foil. Fold foil into a tent shape and place over the breast to protect it from direct heat.
Remove the bird from the oven and check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Poultry needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 180*. It is important to note that the internal temperature of the bird will rise for 5 to 10 minutes after it has been removed from the oven. Don’t despair if the temperature reads 178; it will reach 180 before carving. Remove the bird from the tray and set on a cutting board, preferably one with a well around the edge to catch drippings.
If you had vegetables in the pan, check them for doneness and return them to the oven if necessary.
Enjoy your first meal. Let the chicken hang out in the fridge while you eat.
After dinner come back to your chicken. Separate the meat from the bones and store refrigerated in tightly sealed containers. I toss the remaining carcass in a large freezer bag and wait until it’s been joined by a friend or two before preparing stock.
Recipes for the leftover meat will follow, over the next few days.
Enjoy these additional ideas for seasoning roast chicken: