Cooking a Whole Chicken – Learn how to Roast the Perfect Chicken in the Oven
At the start of the farm share season, there are lots of fresh whole chickens going out in the produce boxes!
Many of the farms that supply our fruits and vegetables, are also starting to add farm fresh chickens and eggs to their menu.
We are happy to say that “farm fresh” is a big business!
But what to do when a whole chicken shows up at your front door and you have no idea how to prepare one?
First off, Know Your Chicken –
Game Hen – a young chicken weighing in at less than 2 pounds.
Broiler or Fryer Chicken – is about 6 -8 weeks old and ranges from 2 1/2 to 4 pounds. This is the most common chicken sold in grocery stores.
Roasting or Stewing Chicken – Chickens less than 8 months old, averaging 3-5 months and weighing 5 to 7 pounds.
If you are getting your whole chicken from a farm fresh opt-in, you are probably getting a pasture-raised chicken. Pasture raised chickens live outdoors in the sunshine and are allowed to eat their natural diet of bugs, grubs and garden leftovers. These are the best chickens to eat because they are the healthiest.
Secondly – What to Do if That Little Chicken comes Frozen?
Simply place the chicken in the fridge overnight. This will slowly thaw the chicken. If you need the chicken a little quicker, fill your kitchen sink halfway with water and leave the frozen chicken sit patiently in the water for a couple of hours. The water should be room temperature. Change the water a few times just to be safe. This should thaw the chicken in a few hours time, if it’s a bigger bird then give an extra hour. Now cook that chicken! Once you’ve thawed the little bird, you need to cook the chicken immediately.
How to Prepare that Bird
- Always use caution when working with poultry. Use a plastic cutting board if possible and don’t let the bird touch any other food to avoid cross-contamination. After you prep the chicken, splash some white vinegar on the cutting board before washing. Wash your hands before and after handling the chicken.
- Reach your hand into the neck of the bird and feel around for a bag of giblets. Remove the bag and save to make broth or gravy.
- Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Make sure the chicken is dry.
- Mix small pieces of onion, celery and carrots together and sprinkle with a little dried thyme and dried sage leaves. Rub the inside cavity of the chicken with a small amount of olive oil and place the veggie mixture inside.
- Lay the chicken (breast side up) in a roasting pan.
- Rub the outer skin of the chicken with two tablespoons of olive oil and lightly salt & pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, lower the heat to 350 degrees and cook for about one hour. A small chicken 3 to 4 lbs will take about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. A 5 to 6 lb chicken should take about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Chickens over 6 lbs will take 2 to 2 ½ hours.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the chicken.
If you have time, Slow Cook that Bird! Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and roast the chicken, tented for about three hours. Increase the heat to 375 degrees and cook for about thirty more minutes. Tenting the chicken just means to lay a large piece of foil over the chicken, but do not seal it.
Make a yummy roasted chicken with citrus sauce served over rice.
Roasted Garlic Chicken with Citrus Sauce
1 whole roasting chicken, 5-6 pounds
1 medium onion
1 orange, cut into 8 pieces
1 large lemon, cut into 8 pieces
3 sprigs, fresh rosemary
8 cloves garlic, crushed and skins removed, plus 3 cloves, finely minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3.5 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: Place oven rack in center position and preheat to 400˚
Remove neck and giblets from chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle cavity with salt and pepper.
Stuff cavity with orange and lemon slices, along with rosemary and 4 cloves crushed garlic. Tuck additional 4 cloves of crushed garlic under the skin on outside of bird. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over outside of chicken and evenly distribute over the skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Slice onion into ¼” thick pieces and arrange evenly on bottom of roasting pan. Place chicken breast side up on top of onions and tie legs together with kitchen string. (Note: some roasting pans come with a rack; if so, arrange onions under the rack and place chicken on the rack).
Add ½ cup chicken broth to bottom of pan and roast for 1 hour. If necessary, baste chicken with additional broth and add more to the bottom of pan to prevent drippings from scorching.
In a glass bowl, combine orange juice, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 3 cloves minced garlic.
After chicken has roasted 1 hour, brush juice mixture over chicken. Continue roasting chicken roasting another 30 – 40 minutes. During this time, baste with juice mixture and add more broth to the pan, if necessary.
When internal temperature reaches 170 degrees (measure near bone in thigh), remove chicken from oven and place on serving platter. Cover with aluminum foil tent for 10 – 15 minutes.
Place roasting pan on cooktop over medium-high heat. Add remaining broth and juice mixture. Simmer until reduced by ½, stirring frequently. Strain into a serving bowl and discard solids.
Cut kitchen string and discard ingredients from cavity. Serve chicken warm with citrus sauce.
Roasted Chicken with Lemon & Rosemary
1 whole roasting chicken about 4 lbs.
1 tablespoon of dried rosemary
1 small onion, cut in quarters
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 strips of lemon peel
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rub the cavity of the chicken with rosemary, a little salt & pepper. Place the lemon peel and onion inside the chicken.
Place in the roasting pan, breast side up.
Coat the outside of the chicken with oil and sprinkle it with lemon juice. Lightly salt & pepper.
Bake at 425 degrees for about an hour and 15 minutes.
What to do if You Find A Whole Chicken In Your Farm Share Box?
If you are lucky enough to find yourself with a whole chicken, then plan for a couple of meals plus lunches.
Cook once and benefit from the delicious leftovers.
Before you roast that chicken, plan out your meals. A garlic lemon roasted chicken would also make a great Lemon Chicken Fettuccine later in the week.
A whole chicken baked with spices would also make a delicious chicken salad and a chicken quesadilla later in the week.
Perfect Blend of Spices for Cooking a Whole Chicken –
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Mix together in 3 tablespoons of butter. Rub butter over chicken before baking. YUM!
Stop back soon! We always have tons of dinner ideas here at Dinnerplanner.com!