I thought about doing it for months. It’s just one of those things — a kitchen right of passage of sorts — that everyone has to do (at least once). Of course, I didn’t want to do it just to do it–I wanted it to be the juiciest most flavorful chicken EVER. So, I researched. To truss or not to truss? Butter on the skin or under? Which herbs? Breast side up or breast side down? I had this feeling in my gut that I was on the road to cosmic alignment—that somehow I’d channel the kitchen gods and miraculously stumble upon the “secret” to the perfect bird that I could then share with my friends and family and all those other folks on the interweb.
In actuality, the fact that I’d mustered the courage to even attempt roasting a whole chicken was somewhat of a miracle. Of all the meat phobias I’ve fostered over the years, chicken is the one animal that consistently causes me to question being a carnivore. Just the words “chicken skin” make my upper lip curl. So when I picked up the whole bird at Whole Foods, one handed, like I was palming a basketball, and felt the bird’s ribs, solid under a squishy layer of skin and flesh, I nearly gave up on the whole idea. I nearly gave up on eating meat, for that matter. Yes, my resolve was tested at the meat case and again, later that day, when it was time to give the bird its last bath. I used tongs to discard the white bag of parts-that-shall-not-be-named, but I had no kitchen contraption large enough to hold the carcass under the cold running water, that is, of course, except for my hands. As I rinsed the cavity out, I waited for the water to fill the bird to the tippy top, like a drinking glass does when you’re washing it, and it took me a minute or two to realize that because of the GIANT HOLE in the other end where the animal’s head and neck once were, there’d be no filling of the bird.
When all was said and done, the chicken turned out ok. Not miraculous, but glistening brown and cooked all the way through. And I realized, as I was eating it, that perhaps the reason I’d never roasted a whole chicken wasn’t because of my kitchen inferiority complex; I just don’t like chicken.