Sunday, April 1, 2012

Baked Chicken

I know, this sounds too basic, but it isn't an April Fool.  The first time I baked a whole chicken, I was seriously impressed with myself.  People make a big deal out of it, like you did something special by not overcooking it.

We used to have chicken on the Friday nights that we didn't go out for sushi.  I always thought it was some kind of punishment until my mom explained that, in the 1940's, meat did not grace the table at every dinner.  The fact that they had a chicken on Fridays meant that there was meat in their diet at least once a week.  I guess the rest of the week was vegetarian, fish, or maybe an occasional cheap cut of beef.

The pre-baked chickens you get at the market are usually a good price.  They cost about the same as raw, and save you the trouble of baking it.  But they're often dry from sitting under the heat lamps.  If you can spare an hour, do it yourself.

Whole chickens can also be expensive for what you get.  Remember, a lot of the weight is bones.  I picked up this one on sale for 77¢ a pound.  I know, cheap.  And it wasn't even marked down for quick sale.  You  don't have to be an extreme coupon-er to get a good deal.

1 medium sized chicken
*1/2 onion, chopped
*2 stalks celery, chopped
salt, pepper, and garlic powder
*olive oil

1.  Set up a roasting rack in a roasting pan.  Open bag of chicken, rinse under cold water, and stick your hand down the cavity to remove all of the giblets.  I know, kinda gross.  Save them for stock or toss them; your choice.

2.  Set the chicken on its back on roasting rack.  The wings should be on the top.  Rub the skin, including the underside, with about a tablespoon of olive oil, more if it seems dry.  Stuff the cavity with the onion and celery as aromatics.  Sprinkle the skin with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

3.  Cook at 325º for about one hour.  Check the temperature in the thigh joint.  You can pull it at 160º if it's going to rest for 10 minutes.  If chicken is not done in an hour, or you want the skin darker, raise temperature to 350º and check every 15 minutes.

4.  Allow chicken to rest on counter for 10 minutes before serving, to let the juices settle.  Cut into quarters or pieces and serve.

Difficulty rating  π

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