Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Laid-Back Thanksgiving Chicken

    One of my goals for this Thanksgiving was that it be laid-back and easygoing. To avoid what I imagined would be chaotic crowds at the stores, on Monday night I ordered all of my groceries online for pickup on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Tuesday's order was the bigger one, but I was notified just before pickup time that it would not be ready. I called the store and, though they were extremely polite, they could not guarantee that my order would be ready on Tuesday or even Wednesday. Wednesday morning, I was notified that my small Wednesday order would also be delayed.

    So much for easygoing.

    So, early Wednesday morning I headed to the store, expecting to encounter utter bedlam. The store was well-stocked but surprisingly thin on customers. The store had everything but the star of Thursday's feast, the chicken. With my car loaded like a supply wagon, I drove to another grocery, again finding few people, but picking up a nice roasting chicken.

    I had planned to season then roast the bird in the slow cooker when I arrived home. 

    The chicken was still icy on the inside. One thing my mother drilled into me was that it is not safe to roast partially frozen poultry, and I did not have time to thaw the chicken in the refrigerator. 

    Thinking worriedly, I remembered a Facebook post where a friend had spatchcocked and dry brined his turkey so that it would cook more quickly and evenly. Hoping it would also thaw more quickly, I used kitchen shears to cut the ribs and remove the backbone. I flipped over the bird and tried to crack the sternum with a CPR compression. This did not work for me. Hoping to avoid splattering chicken juice all over the kitchen, instead of pounding it with the meat mallet, I placed the meat mallet on the sternum and pounded on it with a bone hammer. I was eventually successful, but only after hammering my thumb in the process. I rubbed smoked paprika, ground thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper into the skin. While this was okay, my husband agreed that our next chicken would be seasoned with good old seasoning salt. 

    While the chicken thawed/marinated, I dug out my cheap steamer basket and set it inside my 6 quart oval slow cooker. Some recipes recommend using chopped vegetables to lift the chicken out of its grease, but I just put about a half-inch of water in the bottom of the crock. When thawed, I transferred the splayed marinated chicken on the steamer basket, put the lit on tightly, and set it to cook on low for 8 hours. It, a 6.5-pound chicken, was done (165 degrees at the thigh) after 4 hours. For safety, always use a thermometer with poultry to test for doneness.

    I cooked it on Wednesday, so I transferred the chicken to a shallow casserole, covered it with foil, and refrigerated it overnight. On Thursday, I warmed the chicken in the oven at 170 degrees. It remained moist and flavorful.

    Caveat: the skin will be soft, so you would need to bake it a bit if you desire crispy skin.

    The best thing about this method, and what made Thanksgiving cooking so laid-back this year, was that the oven was not monopolized by the bird and was, therefore, available to bake scalloped potatoes, corn pudding, and rolls, and to roast brussel sprouts, all at the same time. It was wonderful.

    My goal of a laid-back Thanksgiving was achieved. Instead of rushing about the kitchen, I was able to spend time with my family. For that, I am extremely thankful.

    What's cooking in your kitchen?

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