Biggles’ very own Chicken Conspiracy of 2012

Editor’s Note:  All is well here, no complaints.  There really isn’t much going on worth mentioning in the cooking department, that’s the bottom line. That’s why no posts for such a long period of time. Love you, miss you!

The older I get, the simpler the roast chicken gets.  Wash, more than pan dry inside and out.  Kosher salt well, truss.  Install to 450 degree oven for 1 hour, pull and let rest for 10. The salt dries out the skin and turns it in to chicken skin candy of love, especially on the wings. Meat, even the breast meat, is tender and juicy with good solid chickenny flavors. I can do this.  Well, up until recently I could do it.

Yeah well, maybe 2 months ago I was running in to bloody thigh meat, regularly.  Even the breast meat from time to time would be under cooked. Wing joints, thigh joints, not even remotely done. After 6+ chickens roasted, I was nearing tears after removing the bird from the oven, wondering what to expect this time. I was convinced I had run across The Great Chicken Conspiracy of 2012 just as I had found The Great Potato Conspiracy of 2011.

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The hell continued, 7 chickens roasted, 8, 9, 10 chickens roasted. It was a nightmare, I was nearly ready to throw in the towel. I chalked a few up to not being thoroughly defrosted, even after 2 days in the fridge. I stopped trussing the chicken, allowing more heat to penetrate the thigh crevices. I checked and replaced the batteries in my Thermapen. I gathered other odd thermometers to get a gaggle of readings. I pulled apart the oven to make sure the burner assembly was firmly in place and operating correctly. I routinely used a proper oven thermometer to make sure the oven came up to the correct temperature.  All checked good.  Still, no luck.

A beaten meat man, I admitted defeat. Not such a tough thing to do at the ripe old age of 47. Today, I’m firmly convinced I have no idea what’s going on, in and/or around me. I got no idea, I’m generally working off of reflexes these days. I did what any truly defeated man would do, I read the instructions.

Turns out, no matter what temperature the oven is, roasting time is based upon the weight of the bird. I know what you’re thinking, “Biggles, no f-ing shit !!! What a pathetic doof.” All true, but wait.  See, I’d been roasting birds for so long, basing my weights on birds of the past.  It used to be you could buy chickens that were 3.5 pounds, 4 pounds and big birds were 4.5 pounds. The 5+ pounders were stewing chickens, not tender little roasting chickens. Well, for the last however many years, you’re lucky to find any chicken that’s less than 5 pounds. If you reach in, find the smallest chicken in ye olde chicken patch, you’re most likely going to pull out a 5.5 pounder.  And this bird, my good people, will not roast in an hour, or at least this is my observation.

Of course, these weights will vary depending on where you are and where you shop for your chickens. But, what’s up with these older chickens? Buy any pieced out chickens lately? Breasts the size of your forearms, thighs the size of your feet! I simply cannot buy a 3.5 pound chicken any longer, not possible. And since I’m still unemployed, buying fancy chickens directly from ranchers ain’t possible, I have to rely upon the local cheap marts for food these days.

All is well in the roasting chicken department at Meathenge Labs.  It just takes longer now.

xo, Biggles

13 thoughts on “Biggles’ very own Chicken Conspiracy of 2012

  1. Thanks for sharing your chicken wisdom. I made one of those not-quite-finished chickens this week, too, and had the same result. Pink meat toward the center, flaccid skin. I never thought to notice the weight of the chicken – now I know.

    Glad to hear all is well in Honeymoon Land. Let me know if I can help with the job search.

    • Hi Pam!
      Thank you so much for your patience and time, it’s more than appreciated.
      Did another bad chicken last week and am still traumatized by it. It was only 5.3 pounds. 1 hour 40 minutes at 375 still produced a way underdone chicken. Jacked the heat to 500 for 20 minutes, still no luck. And since the skin was burning at that temp, had to piece it out and pan fry it for another 10 minutes. That’s ridiculous! xo, Biggles

  2. We miss you too Biggles!

    Funny that you post this now, as I burst out laughing in the meat section of the grocery store a few days ago at the unbelievable size of the chicken breasts. But whole chickens available in my neighbourhood are still quite small, mostly around 2.5 to 3 pounds.

    Mucho love from the north.

    • Hi Michelle!

      Awww, see! Your chickens don’t suck. A 5 + pound chicken is fricken useless, won’t be cooking whole chickens again for years. This I can tell you for sure. Read my reply to Pam’s comment above, I’ve had enough.

      xo, Biggles

  3. I have had some big chix teetering on the edge of blushing, myself…until I started using a ” beer can butt chicken” variation. With mine, you can put beer, or my preference, wine in the container…plus garlic and herbs…pop on the top, rudely jam up the chix ‘cavity’…and put on grill with lid down for a good 1 1/2 hrs…basting with fat and juices that gather in bottom bowl of the device. It blows a butt-load of steam up the cicken, and literally cooks AND moistens it from both inside and out.

    • Hey Tony!

      I believe maybe 3 weeks after I posted this, I had another breakdown and wasn’t able to roast a whole chicken for quite some time. Those 5+ pound chickens are just too darned large! Today, am able to deal with it by cutting it in half, setting on a rack and roasting it that way. It’s done in a decent amount of time, retains juicy love and more importantly, my sanity.
      Sounds as though your beer can butt can chicken works exceptionally well! In my attempts there’s basically no loss of liquid in the can. Which means, nothing worth mentioning was released towards the chicken. I haven’t tried it again in years.
      xo, Biggles

      • Ahh…I had the same experience with the original ‘beer can set in a soaked wooden plank’ thingie. What I use now has a kinda cone shaped top with many small holes. When the liquid gets really hot, it creates steam which forces its way out the holes and right into the abutting flesh and bone (pun intended). Because there is a wide, but shallow bowl under the container, and thus the chicken, it can be placed directly over the middle burner set on low…with each side burner set on medium. The whole thing is made from stainless-steel, so is sturdy and easily cleaned. Anyway, I like it…but yeah, a pox on super-sizing chickens!

    • Hey Zappy!

      I’m still here, still kicking and doing a lot better than one might think. The deal is, I’ve been unemployed for way too long. The sheer lack of funds has put a huge cramp in my food related adventures. We’ve actually been doing more baking here than anything else. In any case, thank you for stopping by!

      xo, Biggles

  4. You are so right. I thought that I had lost my mind also. I defrosted in the fridge’ cause I thought that the bones were still frozen. I accidentally found ought the weight issue when I was trying to portion up a chicken according to weight for deep frying. These bigger birds need more time no matter how you are cooking them up. I really was taking it personal until I read your post. Thank you so much. Matt Fisher

    • Hey Matt,

      YES. See? Yeah. It’s really too bad because I really liked the flavors and texture of the smaller birds. Over the last 6 or so years I’ve stopped and talked to butchers or meat cutters, asked them what happened to the 3.5 pound chickens we used to be able to get daily. So far, no one has had a definitive answer. Honestly, I think I’m the first person they’ve talked to about it. In any case, what we’ve come up with is that they’ve all gone to rotisserie deals. If you buy a rotisserie chicken, they’re all small. That’s where our chickens went.