Roasting, baking… whatever you want to call it, this is how I cooked a whole chicken in my convection grill microwave. To be specific, I have an LG convection microwave at home. It has a rotisserie but I decided to bake/roast it on a non-stick, baking pan.
I’ve always wanted to try roasting a whole chicken at home this because I got increasingly sick of buying roasted chicken from restaurants — or “grilled chicken” as it’s more commonly called in India. It’s not charcoal grilled, but cooked in a rotisserie (fired up using LPG). Not only were they getting expensive, but the chickens used were small — or they over-cook them so much that they suck the very life and soul out of the poor bird leaving you behind with a very shrunk chicken. Some of these restaurants even use food colouring to make the end product appear more red than required.
I on the other hand, longed for the kind of roast chicken I grew up eating in Bahrain. Simple yet spicy (but not chilli) and generally not a whole lot as far as the marination goes. I looked up a few recipes online, mostly using the keywords “Arabian” or “Lebanese” and got the gist of what the common ingredients used were. I then read up on the simple Western baking recipes for chicken and how the marination was to be done.
Once I had a fair idea, I went out to buy me a whole chicken with skin. You would think it would be an easy task but considering most Indian cooking involving chicken uses skinless chicken, it proved to be rather difficult. After trying the local chicken vendor, I went to HyperCity which is a well stocked, big supermarket in Meenakshi Mall (Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore). They had everything but a whole chicken with skin. So I rode all the way to Auchan (formerly known as Spar) on Bannerghatta Road. They had much better variety and stocked a lot of chickens for sale with the skin intact. All cleaned out and retailing for a very reasonable Rs. 139 a kilo, I bought a bird that weighed about 1.2 kilos (2.6 lbs).
Back home, I washed the chicken at least twice and left it in a bowl so as to drain out as much water as possible.
The whole point of doing so is so that you can marinate the flesh with the spice mix under the skin and on to the meat itself and not just smear it all over the outer skin.
I’m not mentioning how many spoonfuls of the above spices because it all depends on how spicy you want your chicken. Also, depends on the size of the bird. I wasn’t seeking ‘hot,’ but enough of a spice mixture so as not to end up tasting bland.
I then smeared some ginger-garlic paste along with the spices all over the chicken. Be gentle when using your hands marinating the chicken. Especially under the skin, which can tear easily. I turned the chicken over and got my fingers in as I far I could so as to properly spread the spice mix.
I then rubbed some salt all over. Note: Olive oil, ginger-garlic paste and condiments like oregano already adds a bit of saltiness. So be careful not to over-do it with spoonfuls of salt.
Now back to the microwave. Whether you use a convection microwave or a conventional oven, it still needs to be pre-heated. In the LG microwave, that means clicking ‘Mode’ and then turning the dial to the ‘fan’ symbol on the display with the symbols indicating ‘Pre-Heat’ function. Enter, and when you get to the temperatures, it begins at 180° Celsius (356° Fahrenheit) and goes all the way up to 220° Celsius. I always believe slow cooking ensures uniform cooking right through, so I set it to 180° and pre-heated the microwave. When the microwaved “pinged” implying it was now ready, I placed the pan on top of a stand and put it in. I set the timer for 45 minutes and pressed ‘Start’.
At the end of 45 minutes, I took the chicken out and used a knife to poke through the skin and meat. The meat was still a bit pink around the legs, which tends to be the case when roasting a whole chicken. I then flipped the chicken around on its back because the juices that flow out of the bird while cooking made the base of the chicken quite soggy. I didn’t drain the juices from the pan because it’s full of flavour and I have use for it.
I placed the turned chicken back inside the microwave and cooked it for another 30 minutes. By the way, your cooking time will depend on the size of the bird. Larger the meat, obviously the longer its going to take.
All said and done, this was the end result…
I cut a sliver and it tasted great! (If I may say so myself)
I made the above chicken for a few friends who had come over and a group of five
ate devoured the whole bird leaving behind only bones in such a condition you probably wouldn’t have guessed it was a chicken.
I’m quite happy with the way the microwaved chicken turned out. A few months prior I attempted to cook tandoor chicken (yoghurt marination and all) in the microwave and it was… no, it didn’t quite work. There are some things you just need the right utensils for.
None the less, the success of this led to more attempts and trying different recipes for marination. Like, I mixed the spice powders (not as much though) with dollops of barbecue sauce (brand: American Garden). Logic being, the flavour of hickory is only better accentuated by hot charcoal, something that’s missing when cooking using electricity. So I figured the spices would sweeten the chicken less had I only smeared the chicken with barbecue sauce.
I also tried an even simpler marinate of olive oil, ginger-garlic paste, chopped coriander leaves and salt. Came out swell — jut not something your average Indian will like.
I wanted to roast chicken myself because in Kannur, we now get locally made Lebanese bread (Rs. 20 for 5 pcs) and I had a can of hummus and baba ganoush lying around in Bangalore. Instead of adding more olive oil to the hummus (as is the norm), I use the juices left in the pan and mix it. Dip the Lebanese bread in hummus, dig in to the chicken and… mmmmm.
The success of roasting at home has meant I no longer buy “grilled chicken” from restaurants such as Empire and other places like that. Not only are their food dripping in oil, the quality of their chickens (read: age) leave a lot to be desired.
So there! If you ever thought about roasting an entire chicken at home, let me tell you, it’s do-able if you have a proper oven or a good convection microwave. Have fun cooking!