Baked chicken is a very versatile dish. It is the perfect entrée for a formal dinner, but can also be just right for a romantic meal for two. It even works great as a dish served during a traditional family meal. Baked chicken can be prepared and served whole, or it can be broken into chicken pieces, prepared, and served separately. Baking methods are basically the same in most recipes, but the chicken can be prepared using a variety of different spices. You can create a variety of different dishes using the same preparation methods, but with different seasonings and flavors. If you are only going to learn the preparation for one dish, learning how to bake chicken gives you plenty of menu options.
Chicken Baking Tips
Baked chicken has a tendency to dry out while cooking, so make sure you follow the baking instructions carefully. Over time you will learn the nuances of your oven and develop a baking method that results in juicy, flavorful chicken from your kitchen. If your chicken is frozen, leave plenty of time for it to thaw before cooking. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and place your chicken or chicken pieces in a roasting pan or bakeware. Chicken needs to be baked in liquid to keep it moist. Choose butter, water, broth, stock, or olive oil as your liquid. Chicken should also be seasoned. Some people like to insert lemon wedges, garlic, butter, and herbs into the chicken cavity for baking. These same ingredients can be placed in the baking dish with chicken pieces in order to impart the flavor you desire.
Baking Time for a Chicken
The chicken should be face-up in the pain. If you are baking chicken pieces, lay them in a single layer on the bottom of the pan to ensure even baking. Most chickens should bake for 50 to 60 minutes, depending on their size. The package should include specific times, but checking your bird every 20 minutes is a good idea. This also gives you a chance to reapply seasonings and baste the chicken while it cooks.
How to Tell if a Chicken is Done
Chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Using a meat thermometer to check the bird ensures safe consumption. Insert the thermometer into the meatiest part of the bird (usually the breast) to check for doneness. You can also cut a small slit where the leg joins the body. If the juices run clear, the bird is likely cooked. Chicken pieces can be tested with a thermometer or you can slice a small slit and check the color of the juices and the meat. Remember, cutting the chicken releases some of the moisture, so only use this testing method as a last resort if you have no thermometer.
In addition to basic seasonings and ingredients for cooked chicken, consider baking your bird with wine, ethnic seasonings, or barbecue sauce. Once you have enjoyed the initial serving of the chicken, leftovers can be cut and placed into other dishes such as chicken soup, chicken casseroles, or chicken salad. If you have baked a whole chicken, the carcass can be boiled and used to make chicken stock.