Monday, December 08, 2008

Best chicken, ever

My wife and I are both great cooks so when she said that the chicken that I made for our Sunday dinner was the best she ever tasted I thought that it was worthwhile posting my recipe.

24 hours before cooking the chicken (a whole, locally raised and organic) I washed it in cold water, trimmed a small amount of the fatty skin, split it through the breast, folding it flat. Optional: at this point I partially de-boned the chicken by removing the backbone but leaving the skin behind the backbone intact.

I added 3 tablespoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, one teaspoon of turmeric, some pepper, and half a finely diced fresh onion to a large deep glass mixing bowl. I added some water and mixed all the "brine" ingredients. I placed the whole (but slightly flattened) chicken in the bowl, and added just enough water to completely cover it. I covered the bowl and placed it in our refrigerator for 24 hours. Note: it is very important to not let the chicken get to room temperature: poultry should always be kept at 40 degrees (F) or cooler until right before it is cooked.

24 hours later: I pre-heated our oven to 500 degrees and started our barbecue (I used real hickory charcoal, but gas barbecues are OK). When the oven was at 500 degrees, I placed the chicken in a glass shallow baking pan, split side with ribs facing down, and cooked it at 500 degrees for 5 minutes, then turned the oven off. 7 or 8 minutes later when the coals were ready, I placed the partially cooked chicken on the grill, rib side down. Cooking time will vary: try to get the breast meat done without drying out the meat. I turned the chicken a few times while cooking it. Note: the chicken meat absorbs a lot of water during the 24 hour "brining" period so a lot of steam is released while cooking the bird.

If you don't want to barbecue, you can just leave the chicken in the oven to cook it. After 5 minutes in a 500 degree oven, turn the oven down to 325 and continue until the meat is done. Note: you always want to start chickens or turkeys in a very hot oven to drive moisture in the meat into the center, near the bones - this helps to keep the meat from drying out.