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Easy Steam Roasted Chicken

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  • 1 large chicken
  • A roasting pan with lid or a big pan with tin foil

Everyone on a tight budget needs a good way to cook a whole chicken. Once cooked this chicken can be used anywhere you would find yourself using a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. Whole chickens can sometimes be found for 50 to 70 per pound. They can almost always be found for under $1/lb. Pick out the heaviest chicken you find at the market because it will have more meat on it than the lighter chickens. I prefer 5 lb chickens or heavier, but sometimes settle for a 4lb chicken when necessary.

If you find a good sale, then buy as many chickens as you can fit into your freezer. They will keep for over a year and they are easy to cook when everything else is too much trouble.

Begin by thawing your chicken if it is frozen. You can do this in the microwave or in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Most home economists tell us not to thaw chicken on the counter overnight. This is how I do it though, and so far no one in my house has died of salmonella poisoning. Before I go to bed at night I place my frozen chicken on a large dish and stash it in the oven (which is turned OFF) to protect it from scavenging pets in the middle of the night. In the morning the chicken is perfectly thawed and still cold.

If your chicken isn't frozen then use it as is, straight from the fridge. Unwrap the chicken in a clean sink. Pour off all of the gooey juices. Reach your hand inside the chicken cavity and remove any giblets and the neck. Rinse the inside of the chicken very thoroughly. Rinsing the chicken takes away that slightly metallic flavor that chicken sometimes has if it isn't washed before cooking. I used to never rinse my chicken and I always wondered why it didn't taste as good as restaurant chicken. The key is in the washing. I think the extra chicken juices (blood) give the chicken a slightly "gamey" flavor when it is cooked. Some folks don't mind this flavor, in which case, don't bother rinsing the chicken. If you prefer your chicken very mild however, the extra work of washing it before cooking will really pay off in finished flavor. Be sure to clean the sink afterwards, so nothing is contaminated with frisky chicken juices.

Place your clean chicken into a roasting pan with a lid or a 9 by 13-inch pan. Lay the giblets along side the chicken. You can eat them later or give them to a well deserving domestic creature. Place the lid on your roasting pan, or arrange 3 or 4 sheets of tin foil over the chicken, sealing it in the pan. You want to keep the steam in with the chicken. This is what cooks the chicken and gives it it's special texture.

Place the chicken in a 300 to 325 oven. Bake for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. When the chicken is done it will be lightly browned on top and there will be a nice amount of chicken broth collected in the bottom of the pan. Carefully pour out the chicken broth. You can use it for gravy, soups, sauces or pretty much anywhere you would use commercial chicken broth. Now place the chicken, without a lid, back into the oven to crisp up and brown a bit. About 10 to 15 minutes should do it nicely. Serve hot with mashed potatoes, broccoli and green Jell-O with pears. Refrigerate any leftovers and serve them in a Caesar salad or in any recipe calling for cooked chicken. If you have a large turkey roaster, you can usually fit 2 chickens at once in it and cook them together. The instructions and cooking times stay the same. You just cook two birds with one pot. This allows for plenty of leftovers for middle of the week meals.

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