Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Roasting a Whole Chicken

I'm a big fan of buying whole chickens.  My corner store uses whole chickens as a loss leader.  This little baby is a 4.2 lb chicken which I bought for $.79 per pound.  With the "club card", I bought it for $3.32.  A whole chicken.   When I see it at this price point, I buy several for the freezer.  

I'm not tempted by the prettily packaged 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts and you shouldn't either.  If you are at all intimidated by the idea of cutting up a chicken, let me tell you a story or a couple stories.  First story:  My Grandparents on both sides were farmers in NW Oklahoma during the depression.  There were years they had zero income, none at all.  They lived off what the farm could produce and what they could barter for for complete years.  Next time you think you've got something to complain about, think about that.  About this time in the story, my step kids are rolling their eyes and checking their watches, but wait!  They aren't here right now.  For the rest of you, this is going to get more interesting.

My paternal grandfather was Miles Bennett.  His cousin was J.D. Decker.  The Deckers farmed down the road close to Orient, OK.  One hard year, the Bennetts ate their chickens for food.  Now, they had no eggs. 

If you've never been hungry, think about that. They had little children and they ate their chickens because they were hungry and didn't know what else to do.  Do you currently have something to complain about? 

So for a year or two, the Bennetts bought eggs from the Deckers until they could get back on their feet and get laying hens again.  So the story goes, this crate was taken to the Deckers who put eggs into it and sent it home to the Bennetts.  Yes, if you are a left brainer like me, there are a couple flaws in the story, but that is the story that was told in my family over and over and over again until you just want to scream.  If you look carefully, my aunt placed Easter egg basket grass and a plastic chicken in this crate.  She gave it to me upon the death of my paternal grandmother along with a little family jewelry and made me promise that if I took the crate I would leave the chicken.  So here's to you, Grandma and Grandpa Bennett and Aunt Vera.  And thanks for all you taught me.   

Now, story 2:  wait for it, I have a million.  At Grandma Bennett's funeral, the old ones got together with Pastor and told some stories about her.  Pastor told the stories at the service.  I'll always remember Pastor saying that Grandma was known for her hospitality.  In the time it would take for her to see new guests coming over the hill, she could kill, pluck and cook a chicken and have her famous chocolate cake in the oven.  

Now, for you left brainers, I have a cook book that Grandma Bennett gave me that supposedly has her famous chocolate cake recipe in it.  She gave it to me new when I was about 12 or 13.  I still have it and have blogged about it.  She moved off the farm when I was a baby upon the death of Grandpa Bennett.  But you get the story and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy, actually it empowers me that I could do anything, even if it is totally boggus.

Now I've been cutting a chicken in half to roast it.  This is not the way my mother did it, but it cooks faster. 

Scour the sink until it is very clean.  In a very clean sink, remove the internal organs from the cavity.  Run water through it and take a few moments to pick or cut off anything that you know you don't want to eat.  Breast side up, with a large knife, start at the tail end and cut straight down moving towards the top of the chicken ( the neck or wings end.) 

There is a bone at the top which I usually break with my hands, but if you have a really good knife you can cut it or break it.  Up to you.  Lay the chicken flat in the sink 

Still in the sink, turn the chicken over.  The backbone now faces up, as well as the thighs and legs.  You are going to literally cut out the backbown by cutting down either side.   

Feel your way.  God gave you strong hands and strong fingers. Cut as close to the center as you can with the objective of cutting out that center back bone. 

The next picture shows the two halves of the chickens with the backbone in the middle.  Throw away the back bone or use it with other parts to make soup or stock.  We'll roast the two halves.

Clean your sink thoroughly again.

Herb Roast Chicken at the Bennett/Osbornes

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Cut the chicken in half.  Place the two halves skin side up in a foil lined flat metal pan.  The bottom part of my broiling pan works well for this if you haven't got some fancy roasting pan.  

Melt 4 T. butter in a small sauce pan.  Add 1 1/2 t. Italian seasoning, 1 T. lemon juice (bottled works fine), 1/4 t. salt and 1/4 t. fresh cracked pepper.  Stir, then literally pour it over the chicken. 

Now place in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes.  This is called Roasting in cooking terms.  You can brush the chicken with the juices and butter at the bottom of the pan but I often don't. 

One of the reasons I like this is that I can cook a whole chicken on any week night.  A little rice.   A little brocolli and we aren't doing that bad. 

If you think you can't do this on a week night, trust me you can.  If you still think you can't, try it on a week end or an easier day until you build confidence. 

I've done this for company using two chickens, a good salad, good bread and a good vegetable.  Remember to trust me

Oh, and I think I linked to Real Food Wednesday.  It looks pretty cool.  If I did it wrong, I'll do better next time. http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2010/11/real-food-wednesday-11310-2.html

I also linked to Simple Lives Thursday.  Check this out.


  1. I am simply loving all your "remember to" stuff! Good things to pass on, and the roast chickens look delish!

  2. Only if they remember. Mostly the step kids are looking to the future. They don't want to know what happened in the past. How do you do teach balance? Really. I can't figure it out.

  3. I have found that the little lessons (like your "remember to" series)given softly are heard much louder than the ones pounded in! Oh and my favorite, NEVER ask a question that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Well reality is, there is no tomorrow without yesterday happening, if it happened you will be taking it with you, acknowledged or not. Blah blah blah.....I remember being that way. I probably need to apologize to someone!