On Not Being Chicken

If there is one thing in the kitchen I’m afraid of, it’s raw meat. For years, I either made Dan deal with it or would slide it straight from the package to the pan, refusing to touch it until it was cooked through.

I realized that this fear was probably irrational, especially since I also wouldn’t touch frozen ready-to-eat chicken breasts. Every time I thought about prepping the meat myself, I’d “chicken out” and end up calling Dan into the kitchen.

When I decided to eat only locally and sustainably raised meat, though, we ran into a dilemma. At around $10 per pound, chicken breasts and the like were far too expensive for us to purchase regularly. But if I could face my fears and buy a whole chicken, we’d pay only $3 a pound.

All summer, I resisted. I’d walk up to the stands at the farmer’s market, ready to buy a chicken, and inevitably walk away empty-handed.

This weekend, I decided that enough was enough. I knew that if I wanted to cook our Thanksgiving turkey, I needed to get over my fears of raw meat.

As I got ready to cook, I realized that I had no idea how to cook a whole chicken… Twitter and The Kitchn to the rescue! I largely followed The Kitchn’s method because it came with a built-in side dish; the vegetables that kept the chicken from resting directly on the bottom of the roasting pan came out rich and roasted and delicious. The chicken itself came out perfectly cooked and tender, and I’ll admit I did a bit of a happy dance in the kitchen. For the rest of the night, I was grinning ear-to-ear, proud of overcoming my fears and roasting a perfect chicken.

Chicken10.jpg

A few things I learned:

  1. A broken meat thermometer does you no good. If your thermometer says the chicken is 150F, and then 40 minutes later reads 140F, it probably doesn’t work. A candy thermometer will serve in a pinch.
  2. Prep all the seasonings, oil/butter, and stuffing before you touch the chicken. It is a lot easier and neater to chop up garlic cloves for stuffing and pour out salt, pepper and oil when you don’t have chicken hands.
  3. Instead of baking on a rack or folded aluminum foil, roast the chicken on a bed of vegetables. Instant side dish!
  4. Put aluminum foil on the bottom of the pan, under the vegetables. You’ll thank yourself when it comes time to clean up.
  5. Have a cutting board designated for meat. Do not use the bamboo cutting board you use for veggies, because you won’t be able to fully sterilize it afterwards. I got a decent plastic one at Target for about $7.

Have you faced any culinary fears lately?

Comments

  1. says

    I have an aversion to handling raw meat as well.

    However, because the meat we cook with is now 95% local, grass-fed organic from farmers I know, I find weirdly I am not grossed out by it. Psychologically, knowing that these animals had really good, natural lives and were definitely raised in a healthy environment, makes a huge difference.

    It’s still not my favorite thing to touch, though.

  2. Larissa says

    i used to have this fear too. but i just decided one day to get over it! lol your chicken looks fantastic
    !

  3. says

    Good for you! I have similar feelings about raw meat…and cooked meat for that matter, but I always relied on Billy to cook the meat. Now, my meals are bean & plant-based and he cooks his own meat. I’m not sure when or if I’ll ever conquer my fear!?

  4. says

    I am the same with fish! Salmon with the skin on totally creeps me out to watch it being cooked, lol.

    That chicken looks like you stole it right from the pages of Country Living – turned out perfect! Way to go:)

  5. says

    Thanks for these tips! I have done the roast turkey breast thing, but haven’t done a whole chicken…yet.

    Also, where do you buy your locally grown meat? Only at the farmer’s market? Or do you have a local butcher?

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      We don’t have a local butcher (at least, not that I know of), so I get my meat at the farmer’s market or the co-op!

  6. says

    i’m not afraid of it, per se, but i intensely dislike eating chicken or turkey off the bone. beef, pork, lamb — none of that bothers me. but something about all that sinew and skin and the little bones…i don’t like it. =)

  7. says

    I always hated dealing with raw meat too, then Jacob went away for the summer. I was cooking alone, so if I wanted chicken enchiladas, I had to get over it. 😛

  8. says

    I have the same fear of cooking chicken (or any meat for that matter). It seems like roasting a whole chicken is better for someone like me with raw chicken aversion though since you don’t really have to trim and handle it too much before it’s cooked. I’ll definitely try this method — thanks!!

  9. says

    Preach on about the tin foil!! I try to use it as much as possible.

    I once made homemade chicken soup with a whole chicken. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but the end result was well worth it.

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  1. […] anyway. I’ve never made a whole chicken before, so I was a little nervous and consulted a few online sources (and my mom, of […]