Today, most people are used to buying chicken completely cleaned, sliced, and wrapped in plastic. Knowing how to cook a whole chicken from the start is an essential skill any food lover should possess. Preparation always begins with thorough cleaning. The main goal of cleaning is to remove excess fat and tissue, wash away any bacterial debris, and ensure that the meat gets the right taste and texture.
Part 1 of 3: Prepare a whole chicken
Step 1. Keep the work area clean
Raw chicken contains bacteria that can be harmful if consumed. For this reason, it is a good idea to clean the work area and keep away the other ingredients used, as well as personal items such as cell phones, to avoid cross-contamination.
- Avoid putting your hands in your mouth or touching surrounding objects after handling the raw chicken. If you're not careful, you can spread germs all over the house.
- Make sure to clean any surfaces you come into contact with during preparation, such as the handles on the faucet or drawers.
Step 2. Cover the work surface with a paper towel
The paper acts as a barrier to prevent the chicken's liquid from spreading on the table or cutting board.
It's also used to dry off the chicken later after you've washed it
Step 3. Let the chicken thaw
Poultry stored in the freezer must first thaw at room temperature. It's best to put the chicken in the refrigerator and let it sit all night. If you don't have that much time, you can dip the (wrapped) chicken in a cold water bath, drain it, and run fresh running water over it every half hour.
- It takes about 24 hours to thaw a 2 kg chicken in the refrigerator and about half an hour in a water bath if it weighs 500 g. Plan accordingly so that you can prepare dinner on time.
- Chicken should always be cooked immediately after thawing.
Step 4. Remove the chicken from the packaging
Most often, whole chickens are sold in sealed plastic containers. Cut open the foil with scissors, grab the chicken by the thighs, and lift it up. Hold the packaging upright so you don't spill the liquid.
Throw the packaging away immediately to prevent the bacteria from spreading
Step 5. Cut off the material holding the chicken together
Butchers use wire, string, or elastic to tie the chicken into a compact shape. When yours is fully laced, cut the wires with scissors. Be careful not to damage the skin or muscle meat. You should have direct access to the cavity at the back end.
- Like the rest of the packaging, these materials should go straight to the trash.
- Tying the chicken together makes it easier to pack and shortens the baking time, but it only interferes with the cooking and can even lead to uneven heating.
Part 2 of 3: Cut and wash the chicken
Step 1. Pull out the innards
Whole chickens are sometimes sold with wrapped giblets inside the animal's body. Insert your hand into the cavity at the back of the chicken and see if there is a plastic or paper packet inside. Remove it and set it aside. Don't forget to wash the plastic bag before placing it on the work surface.
- You can use the innards to prepare broths, soups and sauces. Many chefs also like to fry them and serve them individually because of their excellent nutritional content.
- If you're not interested in storing the innards, throw them away with the rest of the packaging.
Step 2. Remove the kidneys
After the innards are removed, search inside the cavity to retrieve the kidneys. They are small, round, dark red or brown bulges on the back of the bird, just above the tail. Grasp the part where they connect to the fabric and pull to remove them. So they come out with little resistance.
The kidneys are sometimes left in place or ignored during the cooking and cutting of the chicken. This is particularly often the case if the bird was bought on farms or in an organic grocery store and not in the supermarket
Step 3. Cut off the excess fat and cartilage
Fat deposits are usually found in the neck and tail area. If you see unwanted tissue, pull it away from the meat with one hand and carefully cut through it with a sharp knife. Throw away the fat or save it to use for something else.
- Chicken fat is suitable for greasing frying pans and casserole dishes or to give soups, broths or stews a better taste.
- If you want to keep it for cooking, you have to boil out the fat first. After that, it's easier to store and will last up to four weeks in the refrigerator.
Part 3 of 3: Prepare the chicken for the oven
Step 1. Store the chicken uncovered in the refrigerator for an hour
Place the chicken in a baking dish and put it on the lowest level. In this way, any leaking liquid does not come into contact with other food. A short rest period allows the bird to dry completely after thawing or washing, resulting in meat that is evenly cooked with a crispier crust.
- To optimize your time, let the oven preheat for 15 to 20 minutes before taking the chicken out of the refrigerator.
- If you don't have much time, just dry it off with paper towels and start cooking right away.
- Never let raw chicken sit at room temperature.
Step 2. Disinfect the work area
When you have finished preparing the bird, rinse all of the utensils and supplies used with disinfectant dish soap and hot water. Then throw all of the paper towels in the trash can. Finally, spray the surface or cutting board with a strong disinfectant solution, let it work for a few minutes and rinse it off.
- For the sake of your health and that of your family, you should also thoroughly clean other areas where germs can hide, such as the area around the sink or the garbage can.
- Throw away the trash with the packaging and the discarded pieces of chicken and take them out of the house right away. Otherwise they may start giving off unpleasant smells in the kitchen.
Step 3. Cook the chicken to personal preference
Now that the bird is clean, it is ready to be seasoned and baked. To get the best taste out, fill the cavity with tasty and aromatic ingredients like lemon wedges, rosemary or whole cloves of garlic. Splashing your favorite marinade under the skin will make the meat more tender and juicy. This can be a great way to give a dull poultry a different taste.
- Chill the chicken before putting it in the oven.
- So that the poultry can be safely consumed, cook them up to a core temperature of 75 ° C.
- If you can't stand the feeling of putting your whole hand into the dead chicken, put on gloves or ask someone else for help.
- Use a separate cutting board for the other ingredients used to avoid cross-contamination.
- A whole chicken is much cheaper than one that has already been cut and packaged. This makes it particularly suitable for feeding a hungry troop.
- Always wash your hands carefully before and (especially) after preparing raw meat.
- Microwave defrosting chicken is not a good idea. The device heats the meat unevenly, making it bland or rubbery when cooked.
- Eating raw chicken can lead to serious illness.
- Do not rinse the chicken before cooking. Rinsing is not enough to remove bacteria or other contaminants. It could even increase your risk of food poisoning as you transfer bacteria to your hands, clothing, and work area.