How to cook a whole chicken

Isn’t this a beaut? First whole chicken ever cooked by a happy customer!

When we first started raising meat chickens, I assumed everyone my age knew how to cook one. I’ll blame the lack of knowledge on the 90s craze of the boneless, skinless chicken breast. I also admit to being a slow learner…I rejected cooking as a kid, stumbled my way through early adulthood, and only in the past five years or so did I start feeling comfortable in the kitchen. Thankfully I married a man who loves to cook! Part of the fun of raising and selling meat chickens has been teaching our customers how to cook them. Most had never done it. Here’s our easy way to make sure your chicken is delicious.

An important note…we learned the hard way to never cook one the day of processing. The meat needs a chance to chill and relax. Keep it in the fridge for a day or two.

We typically roast the chicken in the oven, but a large crockpot works well too. For the oven, preheat to 400 degrees. Take the chicken out of the bag and put it in an oven safe dish. Next, add seasoning to the skin. My favorite spice blends are from Penzey’s and include the Bicentennial Rub and Ruth Ann’s Muskego Ave seasonings. In a pinch, salt and pepper work just as well. I begin by loosening the skin from the meat with my hand, making sure I rub the spice directly on the meat. Once seasoned, I also like to add a peeled whole onion to the cavity of the bird, which gives it a nice flavor. Put it in the preheated oven and cook for 15 min. Turn the heat down to 350 and continue to cook. We’ll check the bird at 60, 75 and 90 minutes with a meat thermometer, and take it out once it reaches the safe temperature of 165 degrees. This is measured by sticking the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The juices should also run clear. Allow the meat to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. We like to have mashed potatoes and a green vegetable as our sides, along with homemade gravy.

Let us know your favorite way to cook in the comments below!

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