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Don’t Chicken Out!

May 26, 2011
Seared chicken

Don’t chicken out – roasting a whole chicken is actually really easy.



Here’s what all you will need:

  • a whole chicken – I usually get the cheap fryers from the supermarket
  • butter – a LOT of it
  • a medium-sized onion
  • garlic – at the very least 5-6 cloves
  • Salt, garlic salt, white pepper, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil
Now that it’s all set, let’s go!
First, cut the onions into 1/4″ cubes, and crush the garlic under the flat side of your chef knife.  For easier clean-up, I covered a section of my kitchen counter in plastic wrap, so if juices/blood drip from the chicken, I can just pick up the whole wrap when I’m done and toss it rather than having to sanitize everything.  Start heating the oven – you need to get it up to 425 degrees.  Check the body cavity of the chicken for giblets (they usually come with the neck, liver and heart, sometimes gizzards, too), remove what you find then wash the chicken.  The giblets can make for a hearty broth or chicken stock, or you can just make a chicken liver wrap while the chicken is roasting (just so you don’t have to go hungry until it’s done).
Now, stuff the onion and garlic into the body cavity until it’s completely full, like this:
The chicken, stuffed with the garlic and onions

Stuff the garlic and onion into the body cavity

Add a few chunks of butter here and there as you stuff the bird.  Now that the inside is nicely flavored, let’s get to the skin.  Peel up the skin on the bottom of the breast side, and slide your hand between the skin and the meat, gently separating them.  If you don’t like the idea of slipping your hand between raw meat and skin, wear a thin latex glove (pharmacies usually have them near the diabetic supplies, but most dollar stores carry them too).  As the skin and the meat separates, take a small handful of butter, and spread it in the gap.  Make sure you get butter all over the breast.  Add spices, too, in any ratio desired.  I usually go pretty heavy on the thyme and oregano, less so on the basil and barely any rosemary; a light dusting of nutmeg, some pepper and garlic salt will do the trick.  You can also mix the spices and the butter first – in this case, make sure the butter is overly flavorful, as that’s what flavors the meat.

The skin, opened and buttered

Smother a lot of butter under the skin

Now, butter the skin on the outside as well as on the thighs.  Sprinkle the whole bird with spices as above – on a second thought, I even added some paprika to the outside.  Put the chicken in a deeper baking dish (I used a Pyrex casserole dish here):

The chicken before searing

Ready for the oven!

To tie the legs together like this, use regular twine.  Tie a loop around one leg with a simple knot, then loop the twine around the other, pulling them close.  Now just make a few loops around both legs with the twine, and tie off the end by pulling the end of the twine between the two legs, then pulling it through the loop you formed with this and pulling tight.

By now, the oven should be hot, so slide the bird in and leave it there for about 15 minutes.  In this time, the outside of the chicken will cook very fast (sear), and it will keep all the juices inside the meat, making it soft and moist.  After the 15 minutes are over, get it out of the oven.  It should look something like this:

Seared chicken


Now you have two options.  You can cover the dish with aluminum foil, and put it back in the oven to 250 degrees, about 25 minutes per pount.  If you do this, make sure the foil doesn’t touch the chicken itself, and it seals well around the edges of the dish.
Option 1: Foil

Option 1: Foil and oven

Alternatively, if you have a lot of time or if you don’t want to have to watch for the chicken be ready, toss it in the slow cooker for 6 hours (high heat) or 10 hours (low heat).
Option 2: Slow Cooker

Option 2: Slow cooker

Either way, when you think the chicken is ready, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer.  Insert the thermometer in the breast or in the thighs, about an inch deep, and make sure it’s not touching any bones.  If it reads at least 165 degrees (72 degrees Celsius), the meat is ready.

Ooops... I was supposed to take a picture...

Mine turned out so tasty, I even forgot I wanted to take a picture before I started butchering it…
This recipe also works well with turkey – imagine Thanksgiving without the constant duty of turkey-basting!  Of course, for turkey, the cooking time will increase to several more hours.  I also change the spicing a little, leaving out the oregano and adding some poultry seasoning.  Spicing is something everyone needs to find on their own – try the guidelines here, and tweak them to your own taste!
Enjoy your meal!
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