I can’t stop thinking about cooking this turkey and the more I think about it the more nervous I get. I tried to stop thinking about it and ended up forgetting to take it out of the freezer Sunday night and didn’t remember that I’d forgotten until 10am on Monday – whoops! See, I’ve gotten myself all worked up!
This past weekend we had my bonus kids and decided that since we don’t have them for Thanksgiving this year (we have them for Christmas though!) that we would do a smaller Thanksgiving dinner. Though if other than the turkey you have all the same fixings is it really smaller? Instead of the turkey I thought a chicken might work better that way they, and we, don’t get tired of turkey even before turkey day.
I asked Mark to pick up a chicken while he was running over to the store to get pudding for a chocolate cream pie. When he walked thru the door I said to myself, “Commence operation dry run!” Alright, what comes next?
Defrost? Nope, the chicken is not frozen – good to go there.
Find a pan to cook the chicken in – good to go.
Take chicken out of the bag – okay done.
Rinse the chicken…..now here is where things go downhill…
I rinse the chicken as almost everyone has recommended. No problem there. No, the problem comes when…now I know there is a bag in the center of the chicken with the internal organs that some people use and some don’t, I’m prepared for that part. So I’m rising and moving and turning the chicken and all the sudden stuff starts falling out. Not a bag but small icky things that I have no interest in seeing – ewww ewww ewww ewww! The kids come in at this point to see what I’m ewww’ing about to which I loudly tell them to “GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN!” Now I don’t know that I would normally yell at them but if I’m this grossed out they will be too and then they won’t eat the bird I’m cooking for dinner. So there you have it – I yell at my kids. 🙂
I do finally manage to compose myself and take a grocery bag turned inside out to pick up these icky parts out of the sink, wrap them well, and into the trash bin they go. Ugh. “Okay move on lady” I say to myself.
I think back to the twitter conversations about turkey and figure what goes for the turkey must also work for the chicken. So I pat the chicken dry and cut a few slices of butter, get the salt and pepper ready and start seasoning the bird. As I’m trying to situate it in the pan I’m looking at it wondering which side is breast side because that’s where I’m supposed to put the butter. If only you could have seen the ridiculousness of my holding the chicken by the legs up in the air looking at both sides, back in the pan – no that doesn’t look right, flip it, no that doesn’t look right either. For the life of me, and yes I know this sounds stupid, I couldn’t figure out what the breast side was. I swear the underside looked fatter. Finally I put the chicken down and went back to Anatomy 101 – if the legs are here and the tail is here the breast has to be here….flip the chicken one more time.
At this point I am sooooo glad I’m doing a pre-turkey run with this chicken and have decided to back my prep time up a bit Thanksgiving morning. 🙂 The rest of the prep whet well – butter under the skin, salt, pepper, some onions, shallot and a sprig of rosemary for the inside and a bit more of all those items for the pan. I also put a little chicken stock in the pan so it wouldn’t stick to the bottom.
According to several, this chicken should cook for around an hour and a half at 350 degrees. In the oven it went. Timer set. About 45 minutes into cooking the kitchen started to smell good. I’m excited now.
I’m always nervous about undercooked chicken and do not have a meat thermometer. Other tips my twitter friends provided for telling if a bird is done is to pull on the leg. If the leg pulls away from the body with ease and the meat twists off the bone if pulled its done. Also if you stick a knife into the deepest part of the breast and the liquid/juice that comes out is clear, it’s done.
Check and check! While the chicken rests for a few minutes I finish with the stuffing, broccoli, roasted fingerling potatoes, and cranberry sauce. I have Mark carve the chicken, kids wash their hands and I pray that the chicken turned out okay. As Mark cuts I notice pink. 😦 No, no no! I cooked it an hour and half, I pulled on the leg, I stabbed the breast meat and it ran clear – why is there pink meat?!?! Dang. 😦 Needless to say we left that part in the pan as it was only a little bit that was pink next to the bone. When I use the leftovers it will finish cooking I suppose. I’ve since checked a few more resources that all say everything I did is everything I should have done to have a cooked chicken. Who knows, but for a first time whole bird I’m pretty darn proud, even if it was only a little chicken and not a big turkey.
The whole dinner overall turned out pretty good if I do say so myself even if the chocolate cream pie did get the biggest response. 🙂
I’m now both anxious/nervous and excited to cook this turkey on Thursday. I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out in the third and final part of Project First Turkey.