It’s been quite a few years since I bought a chicken piece. Back in the early 1980s I bought chicken pieces because I found the texture of raw chicken … icky. With those nifty little packages all nice and clean, I was able to just dump them into a bowl for marinading purposes or directly onto the grill. There used to be a package called the “combo pack” which gave you a few more pieces than a whole chicken, I felt like I was getting over on the industry and usually walked out tall and proud. “Check me out, I have one package with more than a whole chicken!” Sounds awfully silly, today. But then, I was The Man.
Then one fine summer day in August of 1985 at a grocery store in East Oakland California I was standing in line with my combo pack ready for the forking over of the money and an old man said something to me. He looked at my combo pack, closed an eye and peered the open one directly at me and said, “hey boy, you git yousef a whole chicken it cheaper. You payin some foo to cut yer meat, you do it.” Yeah well, you could see the smoke coming out my ears. I sure as hell wasn’t going to admit I was buying chicken pieces cause I thought touching chicken was icky and/or slimy. So I said I didn’t know how. Can’t fault me for that, can you? I DIDN’T KNOW HOW, OKAYYYY?
“you cut it where it beends, it’s easy.” Hmm, that made sense. Okay, I was willing to give it a try. I never looked back.
Even today when I’m whacking into a chicken, I can hear his voice, “you cut it where it beends.”
Since then I’ve been buying whole chickens (a point to this story will show up, I promise) and cutting it myself. I always felt I was saving money and having fun with sharp knives, I like sharp knives.
This last Wednesday I had to buy some meat for dinner knowing that I’d only be feeding two adults with no chillins. Z would be eating out, so … I didn’t need an entire chicken. I bought two breast portions and figured I would just put olive oil on em’ with some spices and herbies with some kosher salt to finish. I did that and roasted it at 375 in a deep ceramic dish for 50 minutes.
THEY WERE SO JUICY AND YUMMY. Even my wife remarked at how good they were. Sure they were spiced a bit, but dang they were good. I feel like a noodle for actually trying chicken pieces again and mentioning it here, but maybe some other thick headed home cook needs a little nudge to think “outside the coup”.
Maybe just having to cook the breast meat until it’s done is the way to get the juiciest breast portions. I’ve roasted my whole chickies upside down and I’ve packed the breast area with bacon and they were never this juicy.