Wednesday, January 27, 2010

CLASSIC BAKED CHICKEN

It seems there are two schools of thought when it comes to baking a chicken. Either you are an "old hand" at it...... OR you have avoided trying it because (even the thought of) touching the raw chicken carcass freaks you out. If the "freaking out" part sounds familiar, this post is for YOU!! It really is easy to do and opens up a whole world of recipes.

First of all, I do admit that it is hard to beat a rotisserie chicken for convenience (and they taste pretty good too), but they aren't cheap and require ANOTHER trip to the market.

I buy whole chickens when they are on sale and freeze them. It takes 2-3 days to thaw a big raw-frozen chicken in the refrigerator, so plan ahead.

I used to bake chickens whole (like you would a turkey), but I was GROSSED OUT by the empty chicken cavity that filled with unappetizing-colored mystery juices as it baked (shudder). To remedy that, I split the chicken open, removing the backbone so the chicken could lay flat while it baked. Not only does it speed up the baking time, but it is just so much more civilized (wink).

Start off with a whole thawed chicken that is 3 to 4 pounds. Remove it from the wrapper and use SHARP kitchen scissors to cut down along each side of the backbone (neck to tail) of the chicken. You can do this step with a sharp knife, but it is safer and easier with kitchen shears. Remove the backbone and discard (or see note). 

Once the backbone is removed, rinse the chicken thoroughly in running cold water, then blot dry with paper towels.

At this stage, the chicken still won't want to "lay flat" like in the photo  below. To get it to do that, turn the chicken over so you can see the breast bone; make a small cut at the center-top of the breast bone and flex that bone with your hands, it will easily lay out flat. Sounds complicated (but it isn't) and it just takes a second to do.

Ready for the Oven

Brush the chicken skin, lightly, with butter and sprinkle with a little onion powder and dried (and crushed) rosemary (see note) then generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Surround with favorite veggies if you like (but not necessary). If you have a nice big roasting pan, leave out the veggies and bake TWO of these fat hens at the same time. You'll have enough chicken on hand (for sandwiches, salads, quick dinners, etc.) for the whole week, not to mention lots of broth for gravy!!

Bake, uncovered, in pre-heated 400° oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce the oven to 375° and bake for one more hour.

Remove chicken from oven and spoon any pan juices over the chicken. Cover loosely with foil and let the meat rest for five to ten minutes. This produces a VERY tender and juicy chicken.



CAUTION: It doesn't matter what store you get your chicken from or what brand you buy; you still need to be very careful about cross-contamination when it comes to RAW chicken: WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER HANDLING RAW CHICKEN !!!

ANYTHING that touches raw chicken (from your hands, to utensils, to cutting boards, to dish towels and sinks) needs to be washed thoroughly with warm soapy water before you touch ANYTHING else. I go a step farther and use a bleach based kitchen cleaner on all surfaces after preparing chicken.  Personally, I worry about this step being ignored when it comes to deli roasted chicken.


NOTE: The backbone that you removed makes GREAT chicken stock. Keep a re-sealable bag in the freezer and throw the backbones in there. When you get half dozen or so, you can make a fantastic chicken stock by throwing them into the crock pot with 2 quarts of water and some onion, celery, carrots and peppercorns; let it cook on low all night. The next morning, strain and let it cool and skim off any fat. You can either use this right away or freeze it. It is WORLDS BETTER than canned chicken broth!!

NOTE: Rosemary goes wonderfully with baked chicken, it sort of tastes like stuffing to me. It looks like hard pine needles, so I crush mine up before I put it on the raw chicken.
 
 ENJOY !!

19 comments:

Heidi said...

Looks really good Coleen! I've never cut the backbone out of a chicken. I have a raw chicken phobia and try to handle it the least amount possible (and then disinfect everything with in a 5 feet radius!).
Thanks for sharing :)

Ingrid said...

That's so funny that you should post this. I just mentioned to Katy that I was intimidated by roasting whole chickens.

I'll be honest I think its the whole chicken thing...it looks more like an animal. I've also never been fond of messing with meat.
~ingrid

Be My Chickadee said...

Hi Coleen. What a great idea to roast a couple of chickens at one time and stock up on chunks of meat. I love it when there's a bit of shredded chicken for quesadillas or tortilla soup. I totally agree about taking the backbone out (I think the term is spatchcock). Sometimes the spatchcocked chicken is cooked in a skillet with a smaller pan on top of the meat & weighed down. No, I've never tried that but Alton Brown makes it look easy & it comes out with a flat presentation.

Barbara Bakes said...

I bet this smells fabulous while it is baking! I'd really love to try this sometime. I wonder if a butcher would cut it open for you.

the domestic mama said...

Great idea! I don't like that cavity, either! EWWWW!

Debbie said...

Looks delicious Coleen. I've never baked a chicken that way before. I have to give this a try!

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

I'm not a fan of touching uncooked chicken?? I bake whole chicken often but never remove the backbone. Thanks for making it looks so simple!

Monica H said...

I've never done it this way but I'll have to give it a try!

heartnsoulcooking said...

I alway cook two chickens, one for dinner and the other to freeze. You can do so many things with the leftovers. THANKS!!! for the recipe.
Come by and visit so you can enter my GREAT!!! waffle maker giveaway.
Geri

Leslie said...

I used to be so freaky about raw chicken, I used to use gloves when I touched it!

CC said...

Oooo,this looks good. I'll try roasting this way for a change..looks wonderful.

Katy ~ said...

Coleen, I had to laugh at "mystery juices." That even roiled my stomach! I try not to think too deeply about the cavity thing, too, grins. Great idea about splitting it down the back and roasting flat. I'm going to give that a try. LUV it with the veggies you've shown. After a loooong hiatus of not roasting chicken, I finally made one. We'll be having it more frequently as it is an economical meal. Love the leftovers.

teresa said...

great tips, that is a tasty looking chicken!

Krista said...

This chicken looks wonderful. Thanks for the "101". I do the same as you. After I'm finished dealing with the chicken, everything gets spritzed with a bleach-based kitchen cleaner. Better safe than sorry, right?

Kathleen said...

This like a great way to bake a chicken! I bet it smelled delicious as well!

A Gracious Home said...

I love baked chicken. The peanut butter cake in the picture is beautiful. I love peanut butter. Doylene

Jeff said...

Spatchcock chicken is also one of my favorite ways to grill especially with herb butter under the skin. Great way to ensure everything gets done at the same time. Plus the back can be saved for stock.

Awesome job!

betty r said...

Great tip Coleen..I have never baked a chicken this way but I sure will next time!

Sonya said...

Coleen I LOVED this chicken! I have made it twice now and will not make it anyother way now! I love how the juices from the chicken mixes with the veggies..they taste so good like that. Thank you for a fantastic way to roast a chicken!