Ok so it wasn’t so great. But it was certainly a lot of fun! A friend of mine, Liz is an aspiring Chef and a wonderful inspiration and encouragement to my kitchen adventures. I also have the priviledge of working with her almost every day of the week. A couple of days ago, as we counted down the last hours of our work day we both realized that we had whole chickens in our respective refrigerators that needed to be cooked soon. And suddenly, just like that the idea of a chicken cook-off was born. The minute the clock struck five we took off to our kitchens and the baking commenced. Neither divulged to the other the seasoning scheme, the plan being that it would be a total surprise.
I started with an Organic Birdie purchased from the Mainstream Costco. No, I don’t want to hear about how it’s still industrialized farming and that the bird was probably fed a steady diet of pure soy. Nope, just don’t wanna hear it or think about it right now thank-you-very-much.
I rinsed it off really good, patted it down and sprinkled sea salt on the interior then laid it to rest with it’s companion internal parts in the pan to prepare for the “Seasoning”
I use garlic for everything. In the case of this particular chicken I took garlic cloves (a whole heads worth) and peeled the skin off of each one. Toddlers are great for these sorts of projects. The Doodlebug loves helping me and this is one of her favorite jobs.
Once I had the garlic gloves ready the insertion stage began. I slide garlic cloves under the skin of the chicken alternating with pats of butter. It makes the skin kinda look weird but assures that the meat is niiiiiice juicy and tender. And the garlic adds a nice roasted flavor as well. Some fresh ground pepper on top and a few drizzles of lemon juice (normally I use fresh, only had the refrigerated kind this time, it gives a bit more concentrated flavor)
Next we slather seasonings alllll over the top and inside cavity.
Now that the chicken is thoroughly covered….
Next the “Trussing” in which you can have fun tying up the chicken.
Once the bird was tied I stuck a head of garlic into the cavity and piled a few more seasonings over the top for good measure. Foil was used to seal the bird in and the whole thing slid into a 400 degree oven. After it baked for about 40 min. I removed the foil and let it bake uncovered the rest of the time until it was done. While the chicken baked I made a cabbage based stir fry with roasted red peppers and oh yes, more fresh garlic. I also reheated some cheese gluten free biscuits leftover from the previous nights meal.
Finally the hour of truth! Both our birds were ready for the standoff. I was pleased with the nice crisp skin mine ended up with!
Liz my worthy opponent tried a totally different technique from mine. She baked her bird breast down which is a trick many recommend to ensure that the breast meat stays juicy since it is facing down. She also did not truss her bird and it ensured even crispy skin all over. Her bird had a wonderful Southwestern Smokey flavor that was divine! ALSO she made the most AMAAAAAAZING potatoes ever. Seriously. She says her secret was sprinkling them with steak seasoning. I don’t know if that is true or not but I DO know they were truly incredible. Good thing our side dishes were not cooking off against each other because no matter how good a stir-fry there is no way it can stack up against potatoes like those.
All in all I liked Liz’s bird much better than mine. It was smokey, full of flavor, slightly spicy and yet moist and tender. With both of us casting votes for each others chicken we ended up with a tie. It was a LOT of fun and I recommend cook-off’s to any of my friends who like fooling around in the kitchen! I suspect Liz and I have a few more cookoffs in our future. Stay tuned.