Whole chicken help!

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Jan 11, 2004
tampa bay area, FL
i have several recipes that call for the use of a whole chicken, but for whatever reason, a whole chicken intimidates me! i end up substituting chicken breasts or thighs, etc. i would very much like to overcome my fear of foul, so if anyone has any tips or advice, i would be forever grateful! :D
I am not sure exactly what it is you are afraid of but let me see if I can help at all. The following is from the cookbook;

General Notes on Chicken

The science of producing Chickens has advanced a long way. At one time the raising of Chicken, like any other agricultural endeavor, was hit and miss. Disease or poor quality feed or any one of a number of things could wipe out your entire flock. This is not so any more. Modern Poultry production techniques have ensured both a stable flock and a consistent level of sizes and quality.
There has been a down side to this. Flavor, unfortunately has suffered. The upswing, on recent years, of Free Range poultry is testament to this fact. A Free Range chicken is one that has been allowed to scratch for its food in the style of the old time Chicken farmer. While modern production Poultry is confined and diets are strictly controlled, a Free Range Chicken is neither so tightly confined nor is its diet controlled. They are given feed to encourage fattening up, but they are also allowed to wander around eating insects and grubs as well as wild plant seed in addition to the feed provided by the farmer. This results in a leaner chicken with a substantially more pronounced flavor. They are also quite a bit more expensive as well. I only use them for special occasions.
When buying a Chicken, please be sure to select a fresh Chicken that has a good appearance and smells clean and fresh. ANY discoloration should cause you to PASS on that particular bird. Also be sure to check the dates and avoid those birds whose expiration date is within 3 days. Even these precautions need to be backed up by ABSOLUTELY IMPECCABLE hygiene standards at home. The danger of cross contamination still exists so: Always thoroughly WASH the Chicken before you start preparing it. Pat it dry with paper towels and immediately toss those towels in the trash. Wash your hands well with antibacterial soap BEFORE, DURING and AFTER handling ANY poultry. ANY implements you use in preparing Poultry should be THOROUGHLLY cleaned BEFORE you use them on anything else. This includes knives, cutting boards, counter tops and anything that comes in contact with the poultry. DO NOT STUFF YOUR POULTRY. It has been estimated that more cases of food poisoning result from the tradition of bread stuffing in the cavity of Poultry than any other single source. INSTEAD, fill the cavity with a mixture of herbs and aromatics. Safer and makes the bird taste better. Poultry must be COMPLETELY cooked. Let the internal temperature reach at least 165 degrees and then let it rest for a bit before carving. Use a meat thermometer, don’t guess. Don’t let these simple precautions scare you off. The Chicken is a magnificent food product that requires a little more common sense than most. It lends itself to a tremendous variety of cooking styles and flavors so don’t be afraid to experiment. Remember! Cooking can be fun!

Copyright 2003 The Bubba Gourmet Steve Lapan used by permission

In addition, whole chickens can be cooked so many different ways. Roasted, boiled, baked, deep-fried, smoked, barbecued...the list is endless.
Recently I tried an organic chicken. I was amazed by the taste! Free-range chickens (which are not necessarily organic) cost about 4 bucks a pound here. A whole organic goes for $1.50/lb and it tastes better than the free-range!
I hope I at least headed in the right direction.
thanks bubbagourmet,

i suppose i should have been a bit more specific about exactly what scares me. using chicken breasts is easy: just remove from package and marinate or season, then grill, broil, pan-fry, etc. a whole chicken seems to me to be a bit more complicated. i just don't know where to start with it. how do i season, how do i arrange, how do i know when it is done, how do i cook without it becoming dry, how do i carve it. so basically, i just don't know what to do with a whole bird, start to finish. :(
Hello Dogsmom, I just did a whole roasting chicken last Sunday, I roasted it in the oven ( time and temp in the package) It was a buy 1 get one free at Giant Eagle.

As far as carving we are white meat eaters so I carved out the breast meat for dinner. And placed out the legs just in case someone wanted to pick at them.

The rest I refrigerated and later boiled the left overs for soup, with an onion and celery, drained this, picked off the meat and started a big pot of chicken veg noodle soup.

If you want some of the meat can be use for chicken salad sandwiches.
hey 2dogsmom,
to me, the hardest part to learn about cooking a whole chicken was how to cut it up. What you should try sometime, assuming that you (or your dogs ;)) like all parts of the chicken, is buy a whole chicken, cut it up yourself and cook the pieces the way you normally would. Personally i think it's a little easier cutting up an uncooked chicken and it would be a good start.
The other thing that really helped me the first couple times i did it was i bought a cook book with great full color photos that showed exactly how to cut up poultry. It beats the pants off trying to decipher text-only instructions.
As far as cooking it, it's just a time and a temp. You ought to give it a try--it's not hard, i promise ;)
thanks for the advice everyone. i am going to do it. i am going to purchase and cook a whole chicken next week...(i think i can, i think i can). i'll let you know how it turns out! :|
Okay, so you want to roast a whole chicken. First, buy a roasting hen. The primary reasdon for doing so is that you will get a much better yield as the birds are so much larger. I would recoommend brining the bird. Use 1 gallon of liquid (I like vegetable stock for chicken) and 1/2 cup each salt and sugar. Submerge the cleaned bird in the brine and let it sit for about 1 hour per pound.
Cut up a lemon, a small onion, abvout 6 cloves garlic, a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary and a couple of sprigs of fresh sage. Mix this in a bowwl and mash the ingredients together a bit. Add salt and pepper and stuff the bird with this mixture. Dusty t he skin of the chicken with salt, pepper and onion powder. Place the bird in a roasting pan on a roasting rack OR oon a big thick bed of aromatic vegetables (My preferred method). Insert a probe thermoometer into the thickest part of the thigh and set it for 170 degrees. Form a tent of foil for the breast and set it aside.
Oonce the temp hits 140 degrees, put the tent on the breast and close the door and allow it to finish cooking. Let it rest for 15 minutes then carve.
hi 2dogsmom,
great to see you back! i was worried that you were traumatized by the whole chicken cooking experience :P
i'm glad you conquered your fear, and it sounds like you had excellent results. Thanks for the recipe too!
definitely! i will make an effort to get back on track with my visits and post some more recipes. i just ordered the new coastal living cookbook and am looking forward to sharing some great recipes!
There's an easy way to check if your chicken is cooked through if you don't have a meat thermometer: use a chopstick to prick the meat in the crease between the thigh and the body of the chicken. For some reason, this is the place that is ready last. If the juice runs pink, the chicken needs more cooking. if it's clear, it's ready.
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