This recipe is more of a method than a recipe. It’s an almost effortless way to prepare a lot of cooked chicken at once and it’s easy on the cook. You simply put the chicken in a covered roasting pan and bake it until it’s falling off the bones, or for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. It requires no special attention, and is pretty much fool proof. On days when you really don’t feel like cooking, this is a pleasant way to make it look like you went to a lot of trouble.
Maggie’s Steam Roasted Chicken
- 1 large chicken
- A roasting pan with lid or a big pan with tin foil
Everyone on a budget needs a reliable way to cook a whole chicken. Once cooked this chicken can be used anywhere you would find yourself using a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. Whole chickens can almost always be found for around $1/lb. Pick out the heaviest chicken you find at the market because it will have more meat on it than the lighter chickens. I prefer 5-pound chickens or heavier, but sometimes settle for a 4-pound chicken when necessary.
If you find a good sale, then buy as many chickens as you can fit into your freezer. They will keep for over a year and they are easy to cook when everything else is too much trouble.
Begin by thawing your chicken if it is frozen. You can do this in the microwave or in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Most home economists tell us not to thaw chicken on the counter overnight. This is how I do it though, and so far no one in my household has died of salmonella poisoning. Before I go to bed at night I place my frozen chicken in a large plastic bowl and stash it in the oven (which is turned OFF) to protect it from scavenging pets in the middle of the night. In the morning the chicken is perfectly thawed and still cold.
If your chicken isn’t frozen then use it as is, straight from the fridge. Unwrap the chicken in a clean sink. Pour off all of the gooey juices. Reach your hand inside the chicken cavity and remove any giblets and the neck. Rinse the inside of the chicken very thoroughly. Rinsing the chicken takes away that slightly “off” flavor that chicken sometimes has if it isn’t washed before cooking. I used to never rinse my chicken and I always wondered why it didn’t taste as good as restaurant chicken. The key is in the washing. I think the extra chicken juices (blood) give the chicken a slightly “gamey” flavor when it is cooked. Some folks don’t mind this flavor, in which case, don’t bother rinsing the chicken. If you prefer your chicken mild however, the extra work of washing it before cooking will really pay off in finished flavor. Be sure to clean the sink with bleach afterward, so nothing is contaminated with frisky chicken juices.
Place your clean chicken into a roasting pan with a lid or a 9 by 13-inch pan. Lay the giblets along side the chicken. You can eat them later or give them to a well deserving domestic creature, perhaps the one who was scavenging the night before. Place the lid on your roasting pan, or arrange 2 to 3 sheets of tin foil over the chicken, sealing it into the pan. You want to keep the steam in with the chicken. This is what cooks the chicken and produces it’s special texture.
Place the chicken in a 325° oven. Bake for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. When the chicken is done it will be lightly browned on top and there will be a nice amount of chicken broth collected in the bottom of the pan. Carefully pour out the chicken broth. After skimming the fat you can use it for gravy, soups, sauces or pretty much anywhere you would use commercial chicken broth. Now place the chicken, without a lid, back into the oven to crisp and brown the skin. About 10 to 15 minutes should do it nicely.
Serve hot with mashed potatoes, broccoli and fruit salad. Refrigerate any leftovers. They can be used in any recipe calling for cooked chicken.
If you have a large turkey-sized roasting pan, you can usually fit 2 chickens at once in it and cook them together. The instructions and cooking times stay the same. You just cook two birds with one pot. This allows for plenty of leftovers for middle-of-the-week meals.
Chicken leg-quarters can also be cooked by this method. Arrange 4 to 5-pounds of chicken leg-quarters in a roasting pan, overlapping as necessary. Cover and cook according to the instructions above. It may need less time to become thoroughly cooked, so check it from time to time. Be sure to wash chicken leg-quarters before using them because it really improves the flavor. This is the easiest way I know of to cook a chicken and the family is always pleased with the results.
Per 2-ounce serving of lean, cooked meat, fat and skin removed: 98 Calories; 3g Fat (24.7% calories from fat); 18g Protein; 0g Carbohydrate; 0g Dietary Fiber; 48mg Cholesterol; 44mg Sodium.
Exchanges: 2 Lean Meat.