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There's More Than One Way to Roast a Chicken

There are two basic ways to roast a chicken - hot to start or slow and steady

If you're ready to roast a chicken and hearing some conflicting information, that's because the experts generally are divided into two camps. The first will argue favorably for starting at high heat and then reducing the temperature. The second group will also rightfully appeal to the slow and steady style: same temperature all the way. Both insist that the taste is better according to their preferred method.

The first method saves only about 20 minutes of cooking time. And remember, the ultimate goal is to reach an internal temperature of 180 degrees. I always check the breast and the leg. You should own a trusty thermometer, but if you don't have one, use a toothpick - stick it into the breast and leg. If the juices run clear (not pink), then the bird is done.

Flavor is best retained if the bird is cooked with the skin on. Plus, you can make up your own herbed butter to slide in between skin and meat. Remove the skin and discard when the bird is done for a healthier meal.

How to Prepare the Chicken

Remove from wrapper. (It's best to work in double plastic grocery bags for the least contamination. Place them in the sink and put the chicken inside. Slit the wrapper and lift chicken out of packaging. Dispose of grocery bags, but be careful not to contaminate the trash container with excess raw liquid.)

Wash the bird thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. (Check cavity for neck and other body parts.) Salt and pepper the inside. Coat the outer skin with oil. You can also cut slits in the skin at the breast and on the legs and slide in pats of herbed butter.

For added flavor, you can cut up apples and onions and place them in the cavity. If you decide to baste with a sweet sauce of any type, remember that it will burn if cooked too long. Save for the final basting.

Wash all surfaces where any poultry has been prepared. Be sure to disinfect faucet handles and the sink itself. Place utensils immediately in dishwasher.

Hot to Start Method

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cook the bird for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Finish roasting - it should take an hour, but may be less. Test for doneness.

Slow and Steady Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and roast the chicken for 2 hours (depending on size, may be more or less).

There are many other rubs and marinades you can use. Try hot sauce or lemon juice. Make a chili paste or try a mustard-based sauce.

White meat is more nutritious than dark meat. Once the chicken is roasted, it can be divided and frozen. As an alternative, boil the chicken in a stockpot - save the stock and use the chicken in soups and casseroles.

For added safety, always cook stuffing in a separate casserole dish. It's even more enjoyable when the outside is allowed to crisp up a bit.

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