TATER PEELIN’ MAMA’S GUIDE TO POULTRY
Holy roarin’ tea kettles! Turkey day is right around the corner! It seems like just yesterday we were shish-kebobbin’ it for Memorial Day and enjoying spritely little cocktails by the pool. It is time to put up those super awesome Bermuda shorts and black knee socks of yours and put your cousin Eddy hat on, flaps down because it is HOLIDAY TIME!
In this installment we are going to tackle poultry. Notice, I didn’t say ‘turkey’. Let’s face it, we’re dealing with some tough financial times, and you aren’t going to learn to be a roast turkey rockstar the first crack out of the box, so save big bird for next week and get yerself a big old chicken. You can use a whole chicken , or if the local grocery store has a sale on bone in breast halves, then that will work jess fine and dandy too. I’ve learned that everything which applies to roasting chicken also applies to roasting turkey, the main difference is in the cooking times obviously, and the need for a strong daddy-long-legs to haul a purdy golden turkey out of the oven. We demure and delicate ladies can handle that practice chicken all by our little old selves.
1) Buy a digital thermometer, preferably the kind that stays in the birdies while they are cooking with an alert to the right temperature (if you aren’t a whiz with math at 3am when the turkey goes in the oven next week, you’ll need one of these. It takes the guess-work out of lbs/hours math)
2) If using chicken breast or turkey breast, always chose BONE-IN meat. That will help the meat stay moist and juicy during roasting
3) Safe poultry cooking is an internal temperature of 165* near the rib meat if using just chicken or turkey breast, or in the thigh if you are using a whole chicken or turkey. That is the magic number. Learn it, Love it, Live it.
4) Wash your hands! We can’t have you getting ghonnasypharelliac’s disease and cross contaminating and all that jazz.
5) Roast on 375* for chicken breasts or turkey breasts and roast on 350* for whole chickens or turkeys
6) With turkeys…. they often come frozen, so make double-secret-probation sure it is completely thawed out before you prepare it for greatness.
7) Roasting a bird of any size, cut, shape, or sort without butter is a dad-gum crime! So don’t do it!
8) Last but not least, ALL TURKEYS HAVE A NASTY PAPER SACK FULL OF GIBLETS (innerds) AND A NECKBONE stuffed in its rear end. I don’t care how far you think your arm goes into the cavity of the bird, if that arm of yours comes out empty-handed…. go back in for a second try. You did not win the awesome turkey lottery and get the one and only turkey ever to not have a pack of nasty shoved in its arse…. it’s in there somewhere, get it out before it goes in the oven. Besides… you’ll need that mess for giblet gravy later!
Now that you know what to buy, how not to catch a disease, and how to excavate the cavity of a turkey…. let’s get on to the practice round.
TATER’S HELLUVA GOOD ROAST CHICKEN
POULTRY RUB (for chicken or turkey) this is where the magic starts….. do you believe in magic?
2 tbsp sea salt (it sounds snobby I know, but I get my sea salt at Big Lot’s… a big old box for $1)
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried rosemary
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Cajun seasoning (you could omit this if you are dining with Yankees…. they are sensitive to spicy stuff I hear)
Make this in advance and keep it in a jar for roast poultry any time of the year. Double this rub recipe for turkey day… those birdies are fluffy and require quite a bit more than a little old chicken.
Ever the deal monger, I am using last weeks grocery deal of bone-in/skin-on chicken breasts for my practice round. Since we are being slightly more health conscious I actually took the skin off of the chicken beforehand. Most people will tell you that the skin is where the flavor is, but I would like to be alive to enjoy it, so the skin came off, and the flavor absolutely did not suffer. When I roast next week’s turkey, I will leave the skin on because it will be in the oven much longer and the skin will keep the juices inside which keeps it from drying out.
Preheat oven to 375* (350* for whole turkey and whole chicken)
For SKIN-ON chicken breast/WHOLE chicken/WHOLE turkeys… at this point, you want to mix your dry rub with 1 stick of room temp butter for a chicken or 2 sticks of room temp butter for a turkey. Mix in a bowl with hand mixer until well blended. Gently lift the skin away from the breast meat with your fingers or with the round end of a spoon. Carefully continue all over the bird until the skin is lose (like Joan Rivers WOULD be if she could stay out of the plastic surgery suite). Now, “stuff” the butter/poultry rub mixture underneath the skin as far back as you can and work it into the bird. Save a tbsp or so for the outside of the bird….. it needs to LOOK fabulous too! Next, spread the remaining tbsp of the butter mixture all over the outside of the bird. This will give it a crisp golden brown color during baking.
For SKIN-OFF chicken breast (I recommend this as your pre-thanksgiving practice round)
Sprinkle poultry seasoning blend liberally on both sides of chicken. Bake bone side down until internal temp. reads 165* and the juices run clear. This usually takes about 35 min. with chicken breasts. Obviously whole chickens and turkeys will take much longer than chicken breasts .
Let rest for 10 min. before carving/serving.
When the menfolk were asked to sum up their roast chicken experience for the evening here is what they said:
Uncle Prime: Heavenly, but that is NOT the word I would use to describe the gastro-intestinal activity coming from his side of the room.
Daddy Long Legs: Awesome….. translated into man speak means “better than the Texas Aggie beat down of the Alabama Crimson Tide this week……. WHOOP” Those Aggies never miss a chance to gloat.
Until next time …
-Tater Peelin’ Mama
and remember…….. you didn’t win the awesome turkey lottery. There is no such thing as a turkey without a gizzard sack!