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Jan 16, 2008 07:09 AM

Cooking a chicken. Help!

Hi guys,
I'm trying pretty hard to be a frugal but tasty chef in the new year and to start out, I am convincing myself to cook a whole chicken, which I"ve never done before. I'd like to have to purchase as few ingredients as possible outside of the chicken. I have a whole bunch of tangerines that I'm not really enjoying enough to eat in a timely manner so I was thinking of peeling them and shoving them inside the chicken and maybe putting some slices on top and doing a kind of citrusy thing. What else do you think my chicken will need? Should there be more liquid? What spices? What techniques? I know Julia Child recommends a butter massage- which I am so looking forward to. Anything you could suggest for a tasty roast chicken would be great. Thanks!

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  1. Keep it simple sweetie! The tangerine idea is lovely. This is what I do:
    Salt & pepper in the cavity, washed unpeeled tangerines (slice them in half if you want) and some unpeeled garlic cloves. I do not smother my chickens with butter or oil, but if you want to - go ahead. On the outer skin I sprinkle S & P , cayenne, paprika then into the oven it goes at 400* for about one hour+ depending on how large it is. Easy peasy.
    I also usually, but not always, roast any combination of vegetables with the chicken: potatoes & onions, Brussel sprouts, parsnips, carrots.....anything you want. Have fun.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      I agree with Gio almost completely, though I personally do a butter or olive oil massage. I also think you could place thin slices of tangerine under the skin. Even with simple seasonings: garlic, salt and pepper, cayenne, your tangerines, a chicken is wonderful. Just don't skimp on them. Season away!

      My personal favorite way to roast a chicken is on 500 degrees. 10 minutes per pound, then remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Perfect every time.

      But ask 10 good cooks how to roast a chicken and you'll likely get 10 different responses! Gio is also right about the other veggies in the pan. Just throw them in tossed with a little butter or olive oil and seasonings and they roast right up with the chicken.

      1. re: Tom P

        Thanks Tom. One could use other fruits as well....I've used with great success oranges, lemons, limes, peaches, apples ....And you're right about the veggies in the bottom of the pan being tossed with, "a little butter or olive oil and seasonings and they roast right up with the chicken." Squisita!.

    2. Search this board for Zuni Chicken comments. IMO, this is the best basic chicken recipe. Nix on the tangerines and the butter rub -- both will produce less-than-crisp skin. You might juice the fruit and reduce it on top of the stove. Use the reduced juice to deglaze the roasting pan while the chicken is resting. Whisk in a tablespoon or 2 of butter.

      6 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca

        I agree 100%.

        The Zuni recipe is foolproof and delicious and perfect for your first chicken.

        You could use tangerines in the cavity but not on the outside.

        1. re: C. Hamster

          Thanks for the suggestions guys, I'll let you know how it turns out!

          1. re: polyhymnia

            Head's up on the Zuni. It is NOT basic. First you brine then you place in a very hot oven which may smoke and this would be your last chocken.

            Basic is this:

            - season the bird isnside and out
            - Place breast up on a roasting rack or if you do not have place right on a roasting pan
            - Place in 425 pre-heated oven for 40 minute (for a 3-3.5 pound bird) and check for internal temperature.
            - slice and enjoy

            After you do a couple then move to a Zuni.

            1. re: jfood

              thanks jfood, that's what I ascertained after a little research. I"m especially concerned my non-ventilated apartment kitchen and tiny little apartment stove couldn't quite handle the heat and the smoking. I"m gonna work with your technique and the first poster's as well. They sound simple but good. Thanks!

              1. re: polyhymnia

                Actually, I stick by my original thought.

                Zuni is NOT complicated at all. It's easy. Rub the bird with salt, sugar and herbs ahead of time. The morning of is fine.

                Slice up 2 potatoes, very, very thin and line your roasting pan with them. That eliminates the smoke from high heat roasting. There is nothing to fear about this technique, espcially if you use the potato trick.

                Hardly difficult and the results are fantastic.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  I would line the pan with Reynolds Release foil if using the potatoes, otherwise they will stick. You can also use stale bread cubes and onion wedges in the bottom of the pan. While the chicken rests, put the bread and onion in a large bowl. Add halved grape tomatoes, diced cucumber, lemon juice, and minced parsley for a fattoush-like salad.

      2. I'm a new convert to the "French Chicken in a Pot" recipe in a recent issue of Cook's Illustrated. The skin is nothing like Zuni, it's sort of flabby and gross and I don't eat it. But the so moist and juicy and perfect tasting. All you need is a little onion, garlic and celery (although I didn't have an onion the other day, and it turned out just fine). Plus it's super easy- literally you brown the whole chicken in a dutch oven with the veggies and then throw the whole thing with tight lid into a 250 degree oven for 80-110 minutes and that's it.

        No salting/herbing, no brining, no drying out, no flipping in the oven. Easiest, best chicken recipe as long as you're not obsessed with crisp skin :) Plus you get a delicious sauce out of the pot at the end to pour over the chicken or some mashed potatoes.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pigtowner

          I've been thinking about making the CI chicken you mention but was concerned that it might be unappetizing without a beautiful crispy skin. Based on your comments, I think I'll give it a go!

        2. Whole chickens are great. I more often remove the back bone and cook them flat on the grill or in the oven or break them down into parts. Good luck with your recipe.

          1. Have said this before on other roast chicken posts, I'm a big believer in turning the chicken to ensure a crispy crust and not drying out the white meat. Start chicken on back to release lots of fat and cook dart meat. Turn about 1/2 way onto breast. Will render juicy, not overcooked white meat and well cooked dark meat.