I may or may not have actually been cooking in my flip flops for this post, might have been my house slippers but I have in fact, cooked many a chickens in my Rainbows okay?
This is is a introductory post on roasting a whole chicken! One of the first things I probably learned to do was cook a whole chicken or Cornish hens from my grandma. They honestly don’t take very long to make, can be seasoned literally a million ways, and can be used in just as many ways. Like....bruh. I could get my Bubba on and list all the things you can do with a whole chicken.
Let’s start with choosing a chicken. Go to whichever grocery store floats your boat. Get you a nice organic, free range, non shot-up-with-drugs bird. Okay, get whatever bird you can afford, but honestly the more you pay, the better your bird (and food in general) will taste. Sad, but true innit? You’ll probably see a few different names on the packages, like:
cornish game or rock hen
The first five will be what you most commonly see in the store, and here I cooked a young fryer chicken. Pick out a chicken that will feed you for more than a day but no more than three. Does that make sense? Basically, if it’s just you in the house, you’ll be fine with Cornish hen or very small chicken.
Preheat your oven to bout 375.
Take a second. Let’s get our mise en place (French for, have all your shxt organized, near by, prepped, clean and ready to go BEFORE you start cooking. That’s a literal translation. I took French in college).
Beside your bird, you’ll need:
Turn on the cold water...
*RANT...SKIP AHEAD FOR THE RECIPE.*
To be honest,
I don’t care what anyone tells you....please wash your chicken. Wash your fish (lol). Wash your meat (lol). Like...at minimum rinse it off (Sidenote: don’t literally use hot and/or soapy water on your food.) (Side sidenote: in some cultures, washing your meat (lol) means rinsing it with water, and putting on or soaking it in vinegar, lemon juice, or some other sort of liquid/concoction that is said to not only clean but tenderize and flavor your dish).
Now, that being said.
Yes, I wash my meat...IN MY SINK. Usually, unless I have a very large amount of meat, I’m placing it in a bowl or something else, set into my sink. And once I’m done, I immediately rinse with hot water, wash with hot soapy water and rinse again. I’m being careful that I stay within the boundaries of my ONE sink, and for some reason if anything seems to have gotten out, I’m disinfecting and sanitizing. Cross contamination and food borne illnesses are a real thing, and it’s how y’all get the nannies. And I don’t mean housekeeping babysitters.
If you have anything to say about washing your meat, cool you’re entitled to your opinion. If you want, you can comment below why you don’t do it. I prefer to not have excess blood, goop, smells, whatever on my product. I rinse my meat, seafood, and fresh produce. It is what it is.
However, if you have a negative comment about rinsing your meats off in the sink (Ha), I ask you...have you ever thawed out meat? Where did you and how did you do it?
ANYWAY, back to this chicken. After it’s rinsed and thoroughly checked for feathers that need to still be plucked, check it’s cavity. Like, don’t be afraid to straight up out your whole hand in that bad boy. Inside, more than likely, you’ll find either floating freely or in a bag, #ThaGizzards.
Whew Chile. Don’t be all scary now. It’s just a heart, some liver, the neck, and some other little goopy parts from the inside of the bird. Toss them or be cool like me and save them to fry up, put in gravies, season that pot of beans or greens, or cook up for your fur baby for a treat and boost of protein (don’t add seasoning though).
Get you a nice roasting pan, or my favorite, a glass baking dish. Pyrex. Making magic happen in kitchens for however long they’ve been around. Make sure it’s dry, but obviously, make sure your bird has room. Don’t smush it up in something too small, but don’t put it in anything way too big. You need to Goldilocks the dish basically.
At this point, I have my sink running with water as hot as it can get and I have the soap nearby. Wash your hands after every time you touch the chicken, and wash anything you accidentally touch with your raw hands.
Now, you gotta paper towel dry your bird in all of its cracks and crevices! This ensures you’ll get a nice crispy, brown skin. I like to apply a good bit of butter all over my bird (fat builds flavor) but you don’t have to and I don’t do it every single time....
Here’s the best part...
You can add any combination of seasonings your heart desires. You can literally put just some salt and pepper on it and it’ll come out phenomenal. Making sure you’re seasoning liberally and evenly, and get all up in them gaping holes.
Put your chicken in the oven until the skin starts to turn golden brown. Then turn your oven down to 325 and let it finish! The whole cooking time for an average sized chicken should be about 1 hour 45 minutes. Give or take. When you poke it or cut it and the juices run clear, it’s done. Pull it out and let it chill out at room temperature so all them juices can get sucked back in.
I’ll have to add on to this post another time with how to spatchcock, and how to break down your chicken once it’s cooked. But for now...
Eat when you’re ready. Hopefully your bird ain dry, and e real good.