/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » tasty tuesdays: rubber chicken

Hopefully, the title of today’s post doesn’t make you think of real rubber chickens… but it probably did.  😉

What I call “rubber chicken” is a whole chicken, baked, broiled, or somehow cooked so that multiple meals are *stretched* from it – hence the “rubber” part of its name.  I’ll tell you that my preferred way to buy chicken is in the bag – as in, “individually frozen chicken breasts in a bag.”  But that’s not always feasible or economical.  And so I had to get past my distaste for handling raw meat learn how to cook a whole chicken.

It’s not nearly as intimidating as it sounds – I promise.  If you like chicken skin, it’s almost as easy as grilling steak.  If you don’t like chicken skin and would prefer to remove the skin prior to baking, then there are some tricks I can share to make it almost as easy as grilling steak.

But before I go down that path, I’ll tell you that one chicken will probably run you $5 or less (averaging about 5-6# at an average price of $.85/lb.  If you could get multiple meals from one meat-purchase of $5 or less and found those meals to be delicious and satisfying, you’d be hooked on making rubber chicken.  There are multiple ways to season the bird before baking and it requires no special materials, although you could use an oven-roasting bag if you wanted.  You can use a dry rub or a sauce in a bag to self-baste – the choice is yours.  The meat will be tender, delicious, and amazing – no matter what method you use.

Once you buy a whole chicken, you’ll want to remove the outer wrapping and wash it.  I typically use a squirt of dish soap on it as well – I don’t have the money to buy organic, free-range birds and I don’t want to introduce salmonella to the family’s intestinal tracts.  I’ve had that particular disease and it is no. fun.  So a squirt of dish soap will remove any traces of bacteria that might not be healthy or harmless.  Rinse thoroughly and remove whatever giblets might be in the cavity of the bird.

If you choose to remove the skin on the chicken, you’ll need a knife, kitchen shears, and paper towels.  You can make a slit in the skin and begin to pull, using the paper towel for leverage against the slippery skin.  You may have to cut the skin away in areas around the drumsticks, and I’d suggest leaving the skin on the wings, as it’s very difficult to remove in that spot.  Once the majority of the skin is removed and you’re satisfied, head to the next step.

Once Mr. Chicken is rinsed, you need to choose your seasoning-method.  If you like rotisserie chickens from the grocery, know that they use a dry-rub method to season the birds.  If you want to get more fancy, check out my Italian Butter Roast chicken recipe from a while back.  One of the easiest dry-rub recipes that yields fantastic flavour is to mix a packet of Italian salad dressing (the dry stuff) with 2 t. of oregano (I crush it in my hand first) and 1 t. sea salt.  Combine it well and then sprinkle, pat, and rub it on the chicken.

Put the bird in a pan (I use an 8×8 baking pan) and bake it in a pre-heated oven at 350°F.  If I don’t use an oven-roasting bag, I put a piece of foil over the chicken and pan, tented a bit to allow steam to circulate.  Bake the chicken for a minimum of 55 minutes – if you’re pressed for time, you can up the temperature to 400°F and bake it for 40 minutes.  Once the chicken is done (by both scent and appearance), remove it from the oven & pan and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes.  There is an amount of ‘carry-over’ that will continue to cook the meat once the chicken is out of the oven; the resting will permit the juices (that you’ve painstakingly kept in the bird) to stay in the bird and not all over your cutting board.

Serve it up with a veggie and side of your choice.  Unless you’re feeding a tribe of 6+, there will be enough meat on the bones to make another meal (especially one that calls for chunked chicken), and then there’s an amazing pot of soup that you can make from some vegetables, spices, water, and the bones afterward.  I’ll post two other rubber chicken recipes in the next two weeks, including my soup recipe.  It’s a little bit of work, but the payout is worthwhile.  :)

Bon appetit!

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