Baked chicken is considered a great dish for special occasions, as well as a traditional dish for family dinners. Chicken can be baked in pieces or as an entire bird. There are several ways to season the chicken and your choices should depend on the flavors in the final dish. Baked chicken does tend to dry while in the oven, but leaving the skin on can prevent drying. Knowing how to bake chicken enables you to prepare a hearty dish that is appropriate for most occasions.
Start by thawing the chicken. Heat the oven to 350 degree F. Thawed chicken should be coated in a liquid to keep it moist while baking. You can dredge the pieces in butter, flour, salt, and pepper, or rub the pieces or bird with olive oil. Add other seasonings and place the chicken in a roasting pan skin side up. The chicken should be laid in a single layer, so you should cook only enough chicken to fit into one pan.
Baking Time for Chicken
Chicken should be baked for a total of 50 to 60 minutes. After 30 minutes of baking, use tongs to flip the chicken. You can also reapply seasoning at this point if you want flavorful chicken. Chicken needs to have an internal temperature of 170 degrees for safe consumption. After 50 minutes of baking, use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. The thermometer should be inserted into the meatiest part of the breast of a whole chicken. You can also cut a sit into the chicken to check for doneness. The best place to check a whole bird by cutting is the joint connecting the leg and body. If the juices run clear, you know it is done. Cutting chicken pieces shows the consistent color of a done piece, but cutting drains some of the juices.
There are several different ways to prepare a chicken for baking, resulting in a variety of prepared dishes. Many chefs believe that knowing how to bake a chicken is the most important skill an at-home cook can possess. Understanding the basic cooking method means you can prepare a variety of dishes. Chicken can be rubbed with a variety of different seasonings before baking. Let the seasonings marinate for a few hours before placing the bird or pieces into the oven.
You can use lemon to give your chicken a fresh flavor. Squeeze the juice of one or more lemons over the skin of the bird. Lemon slices can also be placed in the roasting pan or slipped under the skin of the bird. This same method can be used with garlic and other seasonings. Seasoning should be placed on the skin and on the bird’s flesh under the skin, in order to give the meat the most flavorful final product.
Whole baked chickens can also be prepared with a wine glaze. Mix melted butter, white wine, salt, pepper, and other seasonings in a small bowl. Using a pastry or basting brush, apply the mixture to the bird every 10 minutes for the last 30 minutes of cooking. The glaze will add moisture and flavor, and the skin will shine when done.