Roasted Whole Chicken
I have very fond memories growing up of my mom buying a whole chicken to make her Chicken and Noodles. The shredded chicken, homemade noodles cooked in the broth, and mashed potatoes. Just thinking of the salty meat, smooth potatoes, and al dente egg noodles makes my mouth water. Its one of those recipes you can duplicate but just never tastes the same as Mom’s.
Even though I grew up seeing the whole bird preparation, it’s still a little intimidating when the first raw bird is sitting in front of you. This intimidation is why many people never try, which is probably why you can find them so cheap! A few times a month they go on sale at my local health food store. A 5 pound chicken for $5 is a great deal. Throw it in the freezer if you can’t make it the same week (just defrost before starting the recipe below). Roasted chicken makes wonderful leftovers and if you have a large family, it is just as easy to roast two chickens (just double the ingredients)! If you season the bird with basic flavors, which is what I’m using in this recipe, it is easy to reuse the meat for different types of meals throughout the week. If you are reading this the week it posts, I bet you can guess what Culinary Collaboration #2 will include!
Grab a glass of wine and lets roast a chicken! Actually, I would wait to pour the wine because your hands are going to get a little messy.
Recipe Notes: The brine ensures you don’t have to stress about drying out the bird. Even if you can only soak it for a couple hours, its better than nothing! Make sure to get the spices under the skin without removing it so the meat itself is flavored rather than just the crust.
Whole Roasted Chicken
1 whole chicken (~5lbs), defrosted
Tools: Roasting Pan, Baking Twine, and Meat Thermometer
1/3 Cup Kosher Salt
4 Cups Warm Water
1 lemon, quartered
1 Bay Leaf
1 TBS minced garlic
1/2 TBS Dry Thyme
1 TBS fresh Oregano
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 TBS Olive Oil
Brining Process (2 - 24 hours prior to cooking)
Heat 4 cups of water until hot to the touch but not boiling. (Really warm water from sink or a 1-2 minute microwave)
Mix water and 1/3 cup kosher salt until salt is dissolved
Add quartered lemon, 1 bay leaf, and 1 TBS minced garlic
The water needs to be cold so wait until room temperature or add a little ice to speed up the process.
Remove chicken from packaging in the sink (there will be blood)
Reach inside the cavity and remove the innards. These typically come package inside but make sure to take out anything loose inside and discard.
Place chicken inside a container big enough to hold chicken and brine. I find most chickens fit in a large ziplock.
Pour the brine into the container with the chicken, making sure the cavity is filled, and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours but overnight is best.
Seasoning and Cooking (1.5-2 Hours)
Mix rub spices with olive oil: 1/2 TBS Dry Thyme, 1 TBS fresh Oregano, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt & 2 1/2 TBS Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 375.
Dump brine and rinse chicken well in the sink (This is important or the chicken will be too salty)
Set chicken on a roasting pan (one with grates to let juices drip down is ideal but a glass baking dish will work as well)
Season the chicken:
Using hands, lift the skin near the edge of the breast (usually there is a hole or easy place to make a tear) and spread the spice mixture as far down as possible without ripping off the skin. We want to season the actual meat, not just the skin.
Using a finger, spread out the seasoning as much as possible under the skin. Sometimes it helps to prop the bird up and have one person pull the skin back so the other can pour the olive oil seasoning in to allow it to drain down to the bottom. (So many dirty jokes are possible at this moment)
Repeat the process with the thighs. You may have to flip the bird over to get to the thighs. Don’t bother with the wings as the skin doesn’t stretch enough.
Once you’ve seasoned the meat, set the bird on its back, breasts facing upward.
Using baking twine, tie the legs and wings down near its body as shown in picture.
Add more olive oil to the seasoning bowl.
Baste chicken skin with olive oil
Place chicken in oven and cook for an hour. (this is the time to pour that wine, prep a side, or just catch up with family)
Place thermometer in chicken in the breast (making sure not to hit a bone) and wait. You want the breast to hit 165.
If the skin is getting too dark, cover with aluminum and continue to cook until breast registers 165.
Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Steps to carve:
Remove the thigh and drumstick together by pulling the leg away from body and cutting at the thigh joint (when you find the connecting joint, it will be easy to disconnect. You should not be sawing through a bone) - Pictures 1 & 2 in the gallery below
Repeat on other side
Once removed from the body, cut joint between drumstick and thigh to separate the two pieces if desired.
Remove each wing by pulling it away from the body and cutting the connecting joint.
Find the hard breast bone between the two breasts. Picture 3
Slice on one side, down the entire length of the chicken. As you slice down into the chicken breast, you’ll naturally curve outward to avoid the rib cage. Pictures 4 & 5
Repeat on other side
You can now assemble on a platter (as shown on the right) or you can carve up the meat for consumption.
Just like a steak, slice the breast meat against the grain to maintain the tenderness of the meat. For a chicken breast, cut on the width, not the length of the breast.
If you are a visual person, Rachel Ray has a 2 minute You Tube video showing this process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqiP-dYRYxY