Roasting a whole chicken is not something I do (or used to do). I’m not fond of dry chicken and, inevitably, that is what I would end up with when I tried to roast chicken. I did a little research here and there regarding temperature and time and generally, it was high-temperature (450°F) and short cooking time (1 hour) or lower temperature (350-ish°F) and longer cooking time (2 hours-ish). Neither of these resulted in what I wanted which was super-juicy roasted chicken (like you get at Boston Market). So, I gave up on that particular project because I’m a quitter.
But, I really like juicy roasted chicken so I went back into R&D mode. Food makes me do things I don’t like to do, like get out of bed.
I found out most people like crispy roast chicken skin. Yes, that’s delicious stuff, all crackly fat like crisp chicken bacon, BUT — it does not go with what I like, which is juicy roast chicken. You can actually only have one or the other when you roast chicken. If you want both, deep-fried chicken is the way to go. (My kitchen is too tiny and the ventilation too poor to allow the frying of chicken. *sniffle of sadness*) Juicy chicken takes priority over crispy skin for me, so that’s what I ended up researching.
I found out via the Great Grand Internet the secret to juicy roast chicken is very low heat and long cooking time. This makes sense, seeing as how we apply the same techniques to cooking beef stew or barbecue pork. I just never thought to apply the technique to chicken. (I’m dense like that.)
Here’s the way to juicy roast chicken goodness (in yo face Bahstahn Mahket!).
First, you will need a spice rub. This was the general Internet consensus for the best mix of herbs and spices:
For the red pepper, you can use cayenne if you want spicy-spice-spice, chipotle if you want smoky-smoke-smoke, or ancho chili like me if you can’t really take the heat (but you like being a little warm). You can also use a mix of different ground red peppers to your liking. It’s a free country. There is smoky, sweet, and hot paprika varieties, so mix those how you like it, too.
|I crumbled the dried thyme as best I could to get the most flavor. In the future, I think I will use ground thyme rather than the whole dried leaves since it mixes in more thoroughly.|
|Combine all the spices in a small bowl.|
|This is a great time to reuse spice bottles that have the shaker lid to store the spice mix.|
|The amount in the above recipe should be enough for one whole chicken. I don’t make more than one recipe at a time in order to make sure the spice mix stays fresh. If you plan on making this often, then a double recipe (or more) is a good idea.|
|And here, we have a single chicken leg. Because I am cooking for one small Asian girl (and a fat cat).|
|Also, a whole chicken won’t fit into my toaster oven and I find chicken legs easier to eat. The recipe as given is usually enough for 4 chicken legs.|
|By the way, I find glass baking dishes give the best result.|
|Sprinkle the spice mix on both sides of the chicken. I’m a little heavy-handed when it comes to spices. I don’t stop until it’s at drag-queen-eyeshadow thickness.|
|Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator overnight. If you’re impatient, the least amount of time to marinate has been given as 1 hour at room temperature. If you have the time, it tastes freaking great if you let it sit overnight.|
|Preheat the oven to 225°F (250°F if you’re squeamish).|
|I sometimes add sliced onions (1/2 onion per chicken leg) underneath, drizzled with just a little olive oil. You can salt and pepper the onions and/or sprinkle with thyme as well, if you like.|
|Hotbox the chicken (no need to bring to room temperature) and set the timer to 3 hours. You can baste the chicken every 20 or 30 minutes with butter or the chicken juices. I don’t because I’m lazy.|
|This is one of those movies that everyone is always, “OMG! How can YOU not have seen it?! YOU would love it.” Okay. At 170 minutes, it was just the movie to watch while I waited 180 minutes for my chicken to roast itself.|
|Y’all were right.|
|After I saw it, I was all, “OMG! How can I not have seen this movie?! I LOVE IT!” There were guns, asplosions, clever criminal capers, drama (but no melodrama), character insight, and a very good cast. I especially appreciated the realism. That is, it was all actually quite believable and the characters in the movie acted like real people (and spoke like real people) with real faults, as opposed to overly heroic or villianous caricatures that may be entertaining, but with whom you could not connect. Plus, I recognized almost all the cast from other movies/shows (the Allstate Guy with the great voice!) which gives me, the movie-impaired, a warm glow of achievement.|
|Also, it was filmed in Los Angeles. I totally pointed my finger at the screen and yelled to my (uncaring, sleeping) Cat, “Dude! I totally pass by that building on my way to Hard Times!” and “I’ve taken that bus before! More than once! It only runs once an hour on weekends! Bastards!”|
|This movie will definitely go into my Roast Chicken Rotation (Rotisserie?) selection of About Three Hours Long films.|
|A guy told me one time, “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”|
Well! That movie had enough heat to roast this chicken leg. Aww yeah. Check out the loot:
The onions have been cooked in roast chicken drippings which makes them extra-flavorful and an excellent accompaniment to the main dish, the Pollo itself.
If you’re worried about undercooked chicken, the FDA recommends all poultry be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. If your chicken has not reached that temperature after being baked for 3 hours at 225°F (250°F if you’re squeamish), then your oven sucks and you do not deserve delicious chicken.
If you decide to roast a whole chicken (4 to 5 pounds) this way, the minimum accepted time seems to be 5 hours (and toss a quartered onion and two lemon quarters into the chicken cavity).
I’m a big fan of dark-meat chicken, but if some of you are not, this recipe works well on white-meat pieces, too. The skin, if you don’t baste it, ends up have the texture of tough paper, but it is still freakishly delicious. If you did go through all the trouble of basting, the skin will be softer and more moist, but I find the effort to not be worth the result. (But, remember — I am extremely lazy.)
This is an easy way to enjoy a nice chicken dinner (even the Dudeliest of Dudes can do it). The length of time is a bit of a drag, but that is why I like using chicken pieces instead of a whole chicken — they cook faster. During the three hours, you can do chores, play pool (for those lucky bastards with a home table), sleep (if you’re brave/tired), watch a movie, plan world domination, etc. After all your hard work (or nice nap) is done, you’ll be rewarded with yums!