I tried cooking a whole chicken a few times. I think that I might be putting the thermometer in in the wrong place. The point at the thigh that I've seen on the internet to put it in has nearly no meat on it! So I stick it in the middle of the thigh. Is that bad? Today when the chicken was put in, there were some ice particles on one of the thigh meats. The thigh meat looked raw to me, and when I put it back in, when it heated back up, it was overcooked. What advice do you have? Should I just switch to getting the separate parts instead of the whole chicken?
Cooking A Chicken
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If there's still visible ice on the thigh, the inside of the chicken is probably still frozen and the thigh will take forever to come to the 175 degrees you should heat it to. Make sure the chicken is thoroughly thawed and take it out of the fridge a half hour or so before it goes in the oven. I find it easier to roast a smaller bird to the proper temperature--under 4 lbs--without overcooking the breast. Put the thighs facing the (hotter) rear of the oven. I always take the temperature at the fleshiest part of the thigh and I keep a close eye on it once it hits 155 or so.
I assume you're baking it.....
Chicago's right, once it gets close to temp you have to watch that chicken like an eagle--it can slide through moist
and delicious into dry as a desert pretty fast if you're not careful.
And since the breast is the big worry for drying out, I sometimes temp it as well.
Also, the only way I've found I can get an even bake when i'm forced to use a less than fully thawed bird is to cook
it "slower-and-lower" to give the inside a chance to come closer to ambient before the real cooking occurs.
You can also bag or wrap it, but that also depends on how you're serving the thing.
When I roast a whole chicken I make sure it's thawed and room temp then I season the inside of the cavity, add a quartered apple, or onion and truss it tight. A tight chicken will cook more thoroughly than a loose one. If you test with a thermometer (and I suggest you do till you get the hang of this) do it on the meaty part and not near bone. Cooking takes practice and practice and practice.
Watch this video repeatedly -
Here are some more good videos about handling chicken. Jacques Pepin demonstrating how to truss, butcher, butterfly and carve birds:
Here's one on deboning, also by Pepin:
I don't truss or remove the wishbone, but Keller's method is pretty close to mine. If I have oranges or lemons on hand a wedge or two, as well as garlic cloves, goes in the cavity. Poultry and citrus play well together.
And yes, if there is still ice on some parts of the bird when it goes in the oven you will have a difficult time getting even roasting.
If you truss the chicken too well the breast will become a bit dry. Here's the way I like to do it
1) Start breast side down and flip it breast side up to finish cooking
2) When the breast is done remove the string and slice through the thigh skin so the leg is hanging
3) Baste and finish cooking.