Monday, August 25, 2008

How to Cook a Whole Chicken (On a Beer Can!)

We're about to embark on a very long, tedious, trying, tiring kitchen journey that follows a young chicken's path from vacuumed-sealed naked bird to fully-cooked deliciousness. Are you ready? I hope so.
So that's a lie. While we will follow the path from grocer's freezer to my dinner plate, the whole "woe is me, cooking is hard" lament is false as false can be. Did you know cooking whole chickens is easy? Scary easy. And scary cheap. My chicken was about $6 and, so far, it has fed both myself and J (originator of the whole chicken recipe!) dinner, me one lunch, and probably about three more meals over this week. Stick with me, kids. This is going to be a great one. Oh, and if B asks, this is very, very hard.

It all started when J and I were tooling around the mall wondering what to do for dinner. She threw out there, "Oh, I mean we can just make a whole chicken." To which I responded in a mix of silent awe and squawking disbelief. Then I let her lead me to Publix and get started.

We decided on roasted potatoes (simmered in chicken broth, garlic, and a little dill) with a sour cream-horseradish sauce, green beans, and (obviously) one whole chicken. I already had the potatoes at home, so we just had to pick up a little guy, aptly labeled "young chicken." I didn't see any "old chickens," so I wonder if they even exist.

J swings by her house to pick up the spices: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, Old Bay, salt, pepper, and cayenne, for a little heat. I'm forgetting one. I know because there were six bottles of spices in my purse and that's only five, plus salt and pepper. Consider this slip intentional. Make your own rub, dang it!

So J shows me how to get the bag 'o innards out, then she loosened the skin slightly and proceeded to smear the young chicken with the spicy, fragrant blend. Then she set it up on a half-full can of beer in the oven and stuffed the whole thing with rosemary sprigs, just to show off a little. (Did I say I made this dinner? Ha.)

We popped this bad boy in the oven and let him cook for just over an hour while we made the green beans and roasted potatoes and, oh goodness, let me just say this will totally be a repeat recipe. It's so easy and makes soooo much meat. I'm planning on making sandwiches tonight on some homemade sourdough with a little olive tapenade and maybe some roasted red bell pepper strips, but I could just as easily throw it in pasta or on a pizza.

Seriously, try it. And remember to tell your dates, partners, spouses, friends, and co-workers that it's really, really hard. Otherwise, the secret will be out.

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