For the Hungry Crew

Whole Roast Chicken

Thinking of spending holidays on the boat, but wondering how you’ll fit the traditional turkey in the smaller boat oven?  A whole roast chicken is a worthy substitute, puts the same great smell in the air, and even looks like a miniature turkey on the table.

Total time: about 3 hours, including time to clean chicken (cooking time depends on size)

1 whole chicken

2 to 4 tablespoons butter, margarine, canola oil, or vegetable oil

salt and pepper, to taste

celery salt or 6-inch piece of celery (optional)

onion powder or wedge of onion (optional)

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning OR 3/4 teaspoon dried ground sage (or 3 teaspoons chopped fresh sage) plus 1/4 teaspoon dried ground thyme (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Rinse the chicken cavity and remove the packet of gizzards inside, if needed.

3. Rub the outside of the chicken all over with the butter. If possible, gently slip some of the butter under the skin on the breast. Put any remaining butter in the cavity.

4. Salt and pepper the inside of the cavity. Even if you are limiting your sodium intake, try to use at least a little salt. Without it, the chicken won’t have any flavor.

5. Place the celery and onion in the cavity if they are being used.

6.  If you have a roasting pan with a rack, use the rack. This will virtually eliminate problems with hot spots because the chicken won’t be sitting in the pan, and all the skin will be crispy, not just the skin on the top. Otherwise, use any baking pan that the chicken will fit into. Place the chicken in the pan, breast side up (the rough backbone should be down and the smooth breast bone up). I prefer not to tuck the wings under the body or tie the drumsticks together. While tucking and tying makes a tidy little package, it also makes it harder to have the drumsticks and breast meat done at the same time.

7. Salt and pepper the outside of the chicken, then sprinkle the poultry seasoning over it (you can rub it in a little if you like). Don’t put foil over chicken, and don’t put water or any other liquid in the pan.

8. Put the bird in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes per pound. Unless the bird is really scrawny and lacking in fat, you don’t need to baste it. If you decide you should baste it, brush it with butter every 30 minutes.

9. The best test for doneness is an instant-read meat thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the thigh but not touching bone. It should read 165°F. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, use all three of these tests: the skin should be a dark golden color; the juices should run clear without a rosy tint when the thigh is pierced with a fork; and the drumstick socket should feel loose when you try to wiggle it.

10. Remove the pan from the oven and put the chicken on a serving plate (a whole chicken will usually fit on a dinner plate). Put a piece of aluminum foil over the top to keep it warm, and let it sit about 20 minutes while you prepare the gravy and other side dishes. This “sit time” will make it much easier to carve as well as making the meat juicier.

11. The drippings in the pan will be carmelized and there won’t be a lot of “juice.” This makes extremely flavorful gravy even though there isn’t much liquid. You’ll have to add broth or water to make pan gravy.

12. Carve the chicken as you would a turkey.

From The Boat Galley Cookbook sneak preview with 33 recipes and other info – get your free copy here (link to .  The Boat Galley Cookbook by Carolyn Shearlock and Jan Irons will be released in mid-October.

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