Ok, apparently a lot of people are afraid of cooking a whole chicken. I say it’s time to put on your big girl (or boy!) apron and conquer that fear. Because there’s nothing to be afraid of! I think that the first time I attempted to cook a whole chicken was shortly into my marriage when we had NO money and needed to stretch the buck. I was 20. So if I can do it at 20 then you can do it now!
Really though, you can get a lot out of one chicken. This is especially useful if you are wanting to switch to organic pastured meat but are turned away by the price. From one large chicken a family of 5 (that’s us) can get 2 FULL meals PLUS 3-4 quarts of chicken broth. You can DO IT! You just have to take that bird, look it square in the eye and say-“I will conquer you bird!” Ok, maybe just think it in your head but have some confidence. The only hard part is making sure you don’t under cook it. Even if you over cook it you can always turn it into something else later. You just don’t want to eat raw chicken no matter how clean it is, cause that might make you sick. And then you wouldn’t like that chicken too much.
Ok, enough pep talk, let’s get started. First things first I pops freaks all the honey’s…just kidding. I just always think of that when I say first things first. Ok, bad joke. Really though, start off with a well, a whole chicken. I recommend finding a local chicken farmer and picking out one of your very own pastured chickens. It’s kind of slippery slope from here because you won’t go back once you’ve tasted your first one. They’re that good. They’re cleaner (can’t really explain it beyond the smell and touch), you’ll know what I mean when you get your hands on one), they’re juicier and there’s hardly any fat! Because they’re pastured, and not jammed into a small dark confined area where they are fed a bunch of stuff that you really don’t want in your body, they burn off some of that fat. And no it doesn’t make it less juicy. Chicken fed on grass is much much better for you and exponentially better TO you. Cause that’s what this blog is really about. But if you don’t have a pastured chicken you can still make a pretty mean one anyhow.
I am going to start you off with a really easy recipe. There are so many ways to make chicken it’s not even funny. This post is focusing more on the technique because that’s what everyone seems to be afraid of. As long as you use seasonings you like and do it the right way, it’s gonna be good. Trust me.
Ok, so you have your chicken. Now get:
A full bulb of garlic plus 3 more cloves for the outside
About 1 tbsp. sea salt and pepper (each)
Dried rosemary and thyme
About 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Any other seasoning that tickle your fancy if you want, if not then this is fine.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Take your chicken, clean it off and empty out any of the inside liver and/or gizzards but save it to make stock later. First, sprinkle your chicken with salt and pepper. Then take the 3 cloves and crush them though the garlic press and spread it all over the outside of the chicken. Next top with the dried herbs and any other seasoning your in the mood for. What’s really yummy is to also get all the seasonings under the skin too but if this is just too much for you then go ahead and save it for next time. Now top with about half of one of the lemons juice and the olive oil. Your gonna need your hands for that so make sure their clean. Rub it all around the chicken.
Now sprinkle the inside of the chicken with more salt, pepper and herbs. Next take the full clove of garlic, cut the top off of it and cut the other lemon in half. Shove the garlic and the lemon inside the chicken. That’s it. Well you do need to cook it but that’s it as far as seasoning it goes. Now let’s make sure we don’t get salmonella and cook that bird up!
Wash your hands cause well I’m sure you know why cause your Momma already told you. Now take a large roasting pan and either line it with foil or apply cooking spray for easy clean up. Place the chicken on top of the rack top with foil and put that sucker in the oven already. Now let it cook. A pretty long time. Depending on the size of your chicken it can take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hours. Go do something else. Like make some sides like cheesy herbed baked mashed potatoes or something green. Or both. Both would be your best bet.
At about half the way through the cooking, take it out and turn it around for more even cooking. When there’s about 20 mins left your gonna want to take off the foil to that the skin can get nice and crispy. mmmm. And make sure you eat it cause it’s good for you! Promise.
Now, how to tell when it’s done. The juices will run clear and it won’t be red. The part closest to the bone will be but that’ ok. Now let it sit for about 10 mins. to lock in all the juices and cut it up! When your cutting it if it looks a little on the pink side don’t panic, just pop it back in there and cook a little longer. If you start to get impatient you can always turn up the temperature but I forewarn you that it dry it out more.
Now your done! You can degrease the pan by adding water to it and scraping it around and pour those juices on your cut chicken if you want. Now go my child, and enjoy the fruit of your labor. And give yourself a pat on the back.
(p.s. save your bones with the insides from before to make broth later)