Monday, May 16, 2011

Cooking a Whole Chicken


I've been threatening to blog about our whole-chicken cooking experience for quite some time. But there never seemed to be enough hours in each day. And although this week is a stressful one (read: we are moving MONDAY) I seem to not care as much about my work anymore as I only have three days left. Therefore I bring you: Cooking a Whole Chicken.

Back in March, Jaime at Fried Pink Tomato posted that Earthfare, a Whole-Foods-type local grocery, was giving out free dinner coupons for a whole chicken. If I like anything more than entertaining myself through learning how to cook (i.e. a whole freaking chicken) it's when materials for such activities are free. All one had to do was print out the coupon and spend $10 in the store. And that was not hard to do.

After work we explored Earthfare and found our coupon items: one whole chicken, one side of rustic mashed potatoes, and one bag of baby carrots. After our lovely 1.5 hour commute, we were ready to attempt to cook a whole chicken.

Having never cooked a whole chicken before (in my mind beer-can-chicken made in a frat kitchen in college and one made 1845-style over an open fire for a museum experiment somehow do not count) I googled and consulted with two websites: No Fear Entertaining and Lubbock Online. I decided to use a dutch oven, rustic-style. Meaning: I have no idea what I was doing. After reading both websites carefully, I combined the instructions as many of their points were contradictory. I did not rinse the chicken, as I've heard the splashing water will spray disease-ridden-chicken-juices everywhere. I did pat it dry, and season it with minced garlic and butter.

The Professor's job was simple. Put your hand up its butt and retrieved whatever ye may find. He did thus. Then we stuffed the poor, assaulted chicken with garlic and lemons. Following the Lubbock instructions, sort of, I cut up onions, potatoes, and turnips. I placed some oil and the onions in the dutch oven and cooked over the stove, adding the chicken, turning it and browning it a touch. Removing the chicken, I added all the veggies (save the carrots) to the dutch oven and placed the chicken on top. This way it won't stick to the bottom of the dutch oven.

Then came the fun part. I had to decide which way to cook the chicken and for how long. One website states breast up, another breast down (legs tucked under.) I started with the later, as this is how I'd been instructed by women far more competent than I in the past. Without really clear instructions as to cooking times and temperatures (more disagreement) I decided on 275-300 degrees until the internal temperature of the chicken reached 175-185. Half way though I added the carrots. This seemed to take hours, but the result was amazingly juicy and delicious. Also I got to stick a large wooden spoon up its butt every half hour to turn it, which enhanced the experience greatly.

Pulled out of the oven to be flipped over spoon-in-butt-style once more.

Let me tell you what it's like to marry and live with an animal bone specialist. It makes any meal involving bones into an educational experience. Asking The Professor to please cut the chicken, I did not realize what I was getting myself in to. I should have remembered he sits in a lab all day studying ancient versions of these same bones. As he cut opened the chicken and carved pieces for our dinner he remarked on this bone, and that bone, and butcher marks, ect. I smiled and added flour to the dutch oven (after removing all the veggies) to thicken it for gravy. All in all a very fun, educational, and successful cooking of a whole chicken.

The finished product.

Making gravy.
Finally time to eat!


  1. Wow-- what an adventure! My best friend's dad is the head architect for Earthfare and designs all of there stores; I'm just waiting for them to build one here in VA! And that is too funny about the bone "lesson" you received!

  2. Wow..that looks pretty delicious to me! I'm impressed :) I have never cooked an entire chicken before, although I did attempt to cook 2 cornish hens for Christmas one year. I overdid it on the Rosemary though, and we ended up having Chinese :(

  3. Hey
    Cooking a Whole Chicken
    Your website is incredible, thank you in your effort!
    Do you have more great articles like this one
    Thank you!


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