FRANKFORT — Busy times call for the streamlined preparation of wholesome, healthy food — whether you are single or part of a couple or family.
Enter the whole chicken. While many cooks purchase chicken parts for individual dishes, purchasing and roasting the whole bird will result in prepared meat for a whole host of quick, delicious, homemade and healthy meals, from Saturday picnic to Sunday dinner.
When you puchase a chicken, buy the best bird you can afford. Read the packaging and avoid birds that have been injected with broth or a sodium solution or pre-treated in any way. I buy my chickens through the May Farm Grazing Guild here in Benzie County. Should you be unable to find a ‘plain chicken,’ skip the brining step.
Meat is brined to add moisture and flavor. I brine my whole chickens and turkeys 8 to 12 hours. To brine a chicken, find a pot that will hold the entire bird with a little width to spare and several inches of depth. A too-big pot will dilute the salt and a too-little pot will leave some meat out of the brine. Fill the pot one third with cold water and add one cup of Kosher salt. Kosher salt is absolutely necessary as it is less salty than either mined or sea salt. Do not use table salt. Stir to dissolve. Add the bird to the pot and add additional cold water to cover. Refrigerate 8 to 12 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry. Using cotton string, secure the legs and wings close to the body. Place the bird in a roasting pan with a rack, breast side down. Add carrot, celery and peeled onion cut into chunks to the roasting pan and in the cavity. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken breast side up and return to the oven. Roast the chicken about 20 minutes per pound or until a meat thermometer registers 185° at the thickest part. All juices should run clear or you will have some undercooked meat.