Although Cooking chicken can be a simple task, there are many determining factors that lead to a perfectly juicy and tender well-cooked chicken. Cooking Chicken is probably one of the most popular meats around for it offers a range of versatility and possibilities! You can boil it, grill it, broil it, bake it, roast it, fry it, sauté it, rotisserie it and stir fry it and always end up with a delicious meal.
However, one of the big challenges with chicken is that it must always be well cooked to prevent food borne illnesses. You can never eat Cooking chicken rare or medium rare. If the meat is pink cook it longer. Raw chicken can make you very sick. OK, so why is this such a big deal? It’s a big deal because chicken, specially the white meat breast area, tends to be overcooked and dry. It does not have to be!
I would like to concentrate on roasted whole chickens in this article as these seem to be the ones that are hardest to perfect. Because of the way a chicken is shaped, it is very easy to end up with overcooked, stringy breast meat; undercooked leg and thigh meat; and inedible, chewy skin. A well roasted chicken should have juicy tender breast meat, fully cooked dark meat and perfectly crisp and well-seasoned skin.
So how do we end up with such a wonderful production?
The very first thing you need to do is preheat your oven with the roasting pan inside. Keep the rack out of the oven to use later. Since everyone’s oven is different I would say a good rule of thumb is to heat it for a good 20 minutes before you start roasting. I have roasted many a chicken in my life and I can tell you that 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius) is where my chicken has come out with the best results. Higher heat cooks the bird faster but tends to scorch the skin and dry up the meat; lower heat – slow and low in the beginning and high in the end – ends up in dry meat as well.
So, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and let’s get the chicken ready! Remove the giblets and the neck from the cavity. Unless you are planning on using them (let’s say to make gravy for instance) throw them away.
Wash the Cooking chicken inside and out and pat dry it well. You want nicely dried chicken skin. Next, trim off the excess fat. Throw that away. Starting at the neck, insert your fingers under the skin and gently push away the skin from the breast meat. Generously season the inside and outside of the chicken with salt and pepper.
Melt some butter in a pan or microwave and brush melted butter directly on the breast and on the skin. Place the chicken sideways on the roasting rack. Open the oven and place the rack into the roasting pan. Cook it like this for 20 minutes. Flip the chicken on to its other side and cook for an extra 20 minutes.
Finally, turn the chicken onto its back, breast meat up and cook for an additional 20 minutes. You need to make sure the internal temperature is 165 to 170 degrees. Another way to check it is by pulling the thigh away from the body. If the juices run clear and not pink or red, the chicken is probably done.
The average roasting chicken is between 3 and 3 ½ pounds. This will render approximately 3 to 3 ½ cups of cooked meat. I am assuming that you will be roasting a whole chicken and not a butterflied one- a chicken who has had the backbone removed. Butterflied chicken will cook faster. At any rate, if you are roasting a larger bird make sure to adjust the cooking time. 20 to 25 minutes per pound is a great rule of thumb! Good luck!