There aren’t many animals you can cook whole in the average oven. Fewer still that aren’t just some poor vermin that got stuck in there. Here’s how I cook a whole chicken and it is REALLY good. You need:
- A whole chicken
- Sage (dry and fresh)
- Rosemary (dry and fresh)
- Thyme (dry and fresh)
- Garlic powder
- 1/4 cup mayo & olive oil total, mixed (or room temperature butter)
- 1 whole bulb of garlic
- 1 small onion
Rinse the chicken and pull any organs they put in for gravy. God help you if you skip this step. Peel the onion, then stick it, the garlic bulb and the fresh herbs (2-4 sprigs of each) and shove them into the chicken’s body-hole. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Take the dry herbs, and if they aren’t powdered, either grind them in a mortar and pestle or a blender. Put the mayo/oil or butter into a mixing bowl. Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper and the ground/powdered herbs, salt and garlic powder to it and mix it with a fork until a paste. Now it gets weird.
Slowly work your fingers under the skin of the chicken’s breast so there is a pocket. Goop some of the spread and work it under the skin all over the white meat and then onto the leg meat until there’s a nice layer. This will flavor the meat directly. Do this with about 2/3 of the mix. Rub the rest all over the outside of the chicken. If you want, now is a good time the truss the legs and wings against the body so they cook more evenly. Sprinkle some salt over the outside.
Bake the chicken on the middle rack (in a pan, it’s going to leak everywhere) and roast for a couple of hours. 300 takes longer, but slow roasting it will keep the juices in the meat and it will cook more thoroughly. The internal temperature should be at least 165°F. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, a good rule of thumb is if you prick the breast with a fork and clear juices run out, you’re done. If they’re cloudy, leave it in. Seriously, salmonella can kill you or make you wish it had if it doesn’t so don’t fuck around.
When it’s done, pull it out of the oven and cover it with foil for at least 10 minutes. Just like steak, “resting” the meat will give it a chance to reabsorb some of the juices and will guarantee a nice moist chicken instead of something that resembles the turkey in Christmas Vacation.
Then slice and eat. It’s really good with green beans and biscuits and will impress family and friends with little effort. This same recipe works for turkey, just double the recipe.