Many love the savory taste of a chicken that has been cooked in an oven. It allows the natural flavor to come through and depending on the type of pan used, it can also be a low-calorie entree that is also high in protein. Cooking chicken in an oven is also one quick to prepare and requires less clean-up than frying.

How to Cut Chicken

Before getting out that butcher knife or cleaver, preheat oven at 350 degrees. Realize that the more chicken is cut, the less time it will take to cook. Many buy a whole chicken pre-cut into eight pieces. However, whole fryer chickens tend to cost much less. To cut chicken in half, place chicken with ribs down and cartilage, or soft wedge, facing up. With one hand on chicken, place knife or cleaver near the top and work firmly into chicken using short, steady, downward movements. To halve chicken, repeat on other side.

Cleaning

Inside the chicken are gizzards, a few livers and possibly a neck. Some save these to flavor soups, stews or make chicken gravy. These parts can be frozen for up to nine months. Whether the extra parts are used or not, all it takes is rinsing the inside of chicken with cool water for one minute or longer to remove excess blood, skin and fatty deposits.

Skinning

The favorite part of the chicken also has the most fat. The skin also keeps the chicken meat moist during cooking. If a person is watching their waistline, they will want to remove fat before placing in oven. If this is not a concern, entire chicken may be seasoned generously.

Seasoning and Spice

One thing about cooking chicken is its versatility. While poultry seasoning is a good choice for those who like a savory, herbal flavor, there are many choices in the spice aisle. Cajun, lemon pepper, barbecue and jerk seasoning are ready to use and popular due to the fact that spices are pre-measured. Some may just use an all-purpose seasoning or ground celery along with salt and pepper.

Marinades

This is a good alternative to keep skinless chicken from going dry while cooking. Like the spice mixes, these are ready to pour over any meat. Depending on how long meat is allowed to soak, they give a lot of flavor without a lot of effort. These come in flavors like teriyaki, herb, cajun or mesquite. If chicken is not cut into small pieces, it is best to place entire chicken in a large bowl or food storage bag and pour entire bottle to ensure adequate coverage. Cover and let sit for four hours or overnight to get optimum flavor.

Cooking

Some use a roaster or deep pan to collect juices that may be used later for gravy or to moisten chicken as it’s cooking. Others may use a drip pan with a rack so that juices will draw away from chicken. The rack also helps cooked chicken to stay intact. Cover pan and chicken with aluminum foil before placing in oven. If cut into small pieces, it should take 45-50 minutes for chicken to cook. Cook large pieces for at least 55 minutes before removing foil.

If a chicken is over two and a half pounds and crispy skin is desired, then remove foil after 45 minutes of cooking.

Normally, a dark brown skin indicates that it is done on the inside. Before serving, stick a large fork or butter knife into largest piece. If meat feels tough or a pinkish liquid squirts out, cook for an additional 20 minutes.

References:

eHow: Bake Chicken

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