Almost fool-proof chicken

Although I was a vegetarian for over 25 years, I sure do love chicken. We keep kosher in a town where there is no kosher butcher, and sometimes the only Empire available is a whole chicken, which is great for soup, but trickier to cook in the oven, at least for me – I often end up under or overcooking it.
clay potI have finally landed on a fool-proof way of preparing whole chicken to recommend, although I must warn you that it requires the purchase of a new tool. I have a very small kitchen, and am not one to load up on extra gadgets, especially if I’m likely to want two of them – one for dairy and one for meat. But I guarantee you that a clay pot is worth the investment, even if all you were going to do was cook chicken in it.  The chicken comes out impossibly moist and tender – falling off the bone, as they say. (Don’t they?)
Every clay pot recipe begins by soaking the pot in cold water for at least 15 minutes. For chicken, I like to lay some carrots and or/halved onions on the bottom of the pot, so the chicken doesn’t end up soaking in its own, copious, grease. Then I stuff some flavors in the cavity – tonight it was half a lemon, 6 cloves of garlic and 2 sprigs of rosemary. Rub a little olive oil on the skin, salt and pepper, and place the chicken in the pot. Cover it with the top of the clay pot, and place it in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 400 and check on the chicken (if it’s around 3.5 pounds) in about an hour. When the temperature on a meat thermometer is up to about 150, I like to remove the lid of the pot so that the chicken can brown a little, but not so long that the meat has a chance to dry out. Remove when the thermometer hits 165.
Oh, is this good.

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posted June 17, 2009 at 9:41 pm

I can teach you how to cup up a whole chicken into parts. It’s easier and cheaper than buying parts, plus you get trimmings for soup stock. It’s really easy.

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posted June 17, 2009 at 9:43 pm

I’ll bring a whole chicken to the beach! Should I bring a cleaver, or a knife?

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posted June 18, 2009 at 9:24 pm

It has been awhile since I bought any chicken but Whole Foods on the 9 in Hadley used to have kosher chicken parts. If you feel like traveling, the Stop & Shop in East Longmeadow has more than just whole chickens by Empire. And of course, a schlep to West Hartford will broaden your kosher choices significantly, especially if you have room in the freezer.

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posted June 19, 2009 at 7:16 am

Trader Joe’s often has a good supply of parts, but it’s totally unpredictable. I always go to West Hartford before passover, but have considered going more often to stock up. The prices on Empire at Albertson’s are quite good.

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posted June 20, 2009 at 8:45 am

Whole Foods in Hadley sometimes even carries kosher organic whole chickens!

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posted June 22, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Poultry shears are the way to go.

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Andrea O.

posted July 5, 2009 at 1:08 am

Amazing recipe! The clay pot sounds so cool to use. It sounds like it would be good for tangines and casseroles. Always looking for new recipes…..
Although Whole Foods in Hadley was out of organic chicken this week (again), their butcher said there was a new line of kosher organic chicken parts coming next week. I’m hopeful!

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