Usually when we’re told this it is unreservedly a good thing. It is said with excitement and relief. Every once in a while though someone is a bit unhappy. Our chicken IS different from what you’ll get from a grocery store. Because the birds move around to graze, and have pretty generous pen to roam in they have some muscle tone. In my opinion, that’s a very good thing, if I want pasty protein I’ll get out the creamy peanut butter. It does take a bit of an adjustment in cooking techniques to get the best out of it though.
As I’ve said many times before, the crock pot is my friend! See “A Chicken in Every Crock Pot” but sometimes a roast chicken is just what you need. Plan ahead and follow these steps and you’ll be in for the very best roast chicken you’ve ever made!
Brining your chicken will help to tenderize, enhance the flavor and retain it’s moisture. A quick kitchen science lesson from http://www.enjoy-how-to-cook.com/:
Brining is a neat little bit of science at work. In this section, I’ll talk aboutwhat goes on when you brine chicken. If you understand what’s going on, it’s easier to modify the technique a little bit to suit your taste, or apply it to a new situation.
There are two major processes at work during brining:
Diffusion. This is when particles move from a region of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. For example, when you’re brining chicken, the brine has a lot more salt in it that the chicken. To balance things out, the salt gets absorbed by the chicken — not just on the surface, but all through the meat (although it does take a bit of time).
Osmosis. This is when water (or another liquid) moves through a membrane from one region that has more water to another region that has less water. When you brine chicken, you’re creating just that situation: the brine has a lot more water than the chicken, so the water moves through the chicken cells, from the brine to the chicken. The result? Moister chicken!
It’s all about keeping things in balance!
On top of diffusion and osmosis, there’s another neat thing that happens when you brine chicken. When the salt gets inside the chicken flesh, it makes some of the proteins molecules unravel. Then, when you cook the meat, the unraveled proteins interact and create a kind of shield that holds the moisture in.
I like to add some additional seasonings when I brine. My basic recipe is 1/3 cup Kosher Salt, 1/8 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon ground sage and 2-3 bay leaves. Dissolve the salt, sugar and seasoning in a cup or two of hot water then add cold water to make 2 quarts.
Submerge the chicken in the brine. If you start with a frozen chicken plan 2-3 days in the refrigerator to brine and thaw. If your chicken is thawed, plan 12-18 hours in the refrigerator to brine.
When you’re ready to roast remove the chicken from the brine and rinse. Pat it dry. For an un-stuffed chicken roast at 350° for about 20 minutes per pound, plus 20 minutes (a 3 lb bird will roast for 80 minutes) a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, not touching bone should read 175° -180°. Stuffing adds 15 minutes to the roasting time, it should also reach an internal temp of 175° Let your chicken rest, covered loosely with a foil tent for 10 minutes when it comes out of the oven. Enjoy!