Friday, May 2, 2008

The Secret to a Quickly Cooked Juicy Chicken

Cooking a whole chicken is one of the easiest meals to put together. It requires minimum prep time and you end up with a whole lot of food. I had often heard that the secret to making a juicy whole chicken, extra fast, is to use a technique called butterflying. It basically means removing the backbone and flattening the chicken before cooking. I had never tried it before, so I decided to give it a go. Like my dad always says when approaching something new “don’t be scared.”

It turns out that butterflying a chicken is super easy. By the time the songs “Legs” by ZZ Top (4 min 35 sec.) and “1979” by the Smashing Pumpkins (4 min 25 sec.) were finished playing on my vintage ‘80s Sony Dream Machine clock radio, I had butterflyied my first
chicken. Once you’ve tried it a couple times, you’ll
probably be butterflying chickens quicker than a two minute Ramones song.

Here’s how it’s done. Place the chicken breast side down on a cutting board. Using kitchen shears, starting at the tail of the chicken, cut all the way to the neck along each side of the backbone (about a ½-inch away from it on each side). Once you have completed both sides, remove the backbone and discard it. Flip the chicken over. Using the heel of you hand, press firmly on the center of the breast and break the breastbone. You have now butterflied a chicken. It’s really that simple.

For a quick sauce I mixed together;
½ cup barbeque sauce
¼ cup plum sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
¼ tsp each chili powder and ground mustard powder

I would have liked to have marinated the chicken in the sauce to build more flavors but I was short on time. So I coated the chicken with half the sauce, working some of it under the breast and thigh skin. I reserved the remaining sauce for basting.

To cook, place the chicken skin side up on a broiler pan and tuck the wingtips under the breast. If you don’t have a broiler pan you can cook the chicken on a rack that’s been set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in a 375º F oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until meat thermometer in the thigh registers 175º F. During the last 10 minutes I basted the chicken with the remaining sauce (it helped prevent the skin from burning). Let the chicken rest 10 minutes before serving.
You end up with a quickly-cooked whole chicken that’s nice and juicy. This is one cooking method I’ll definitely be using again! Cook-on!

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