Friday, March 13, 2009

Trust but Verify. Unless it's Chicken.

In the case of chicken, don't trust anything but your eyes. Don't trust recipes. Don't trust a thermometer. Trust your eyes after you have massacred the chicken with a knife. Undercooked chicken is as dangerous as a pit viper!

I'm on a quest to find a relatively foolproof way to roast a broiler/fryer; one that's not much harder than picking up a precooked chicken at the grocery store. So, with whole chickens on sale this week, I decided to try a method that seemed likely.

The recipe said, wash & season the chicken, put it on a rack in a cold oven set for 400°, and let it cook for 1 hour. I had rubbed the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinked it with salt and lemon-pepper. To assure a moist result, at 30 and 50 minutes I opened the door and quickly misted water in the oven with a spray bottle.

After one hour I removed the chicken and stuck in my quick-read thermometer to make sure the chicken had reached the recommended internal temperature of 165°. It had. I'm showing the thermometer in the breast but I also checked a thigh. Clear juice came out of the hole the thermometer made.

But when I picked up the chicken, pink juice poured out. When I cut into it, even the breasts were slightly pink inside. Back to the drawing board.

Luckily, we were only feeding two tonight. I nuked the breast meat for 90 seconds to make sure it was done but not tough. It stayed moist and was quite good.

The rest of the chicken went into a pot of water with parsley and green onions to boil for a soup base. It's bubbling away right now.

So, what do you suggest I try next? Shall I raise the temperature or extend the time?

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Imprecise & Inexpensive

Two themes predominate in my approach to cooking. 1. Daily cooking of flavorful food need not be a precise art. 2. You can be an adventurous cook on a budget. Cooking and eating should be fun for both cookers and eaters.