According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, chicken is "now the number one species consumed by Americans." Cooking bone-in chicken at home can seem a daunting task for first-timers. With a little knowledge, the right equipment, proper seasoning and a few safety tips, you too can experience the satisfaction of watching the faces of your guests light up as they bite into tender and moist chicken that you have carefully prepared from scratch.
Preparing the Chicken
Remove the chicken from the package. Remove any internal organs remaining inside the cavity and set aside.
Rinse the chicken thoroughly under running water inside and out. Dry the chicken inside and out with paper towels.
Use poultry shears to cut away excess fat and skin from around the neck and bottom areas. Cut the tips from the wings. Continue with Steps 4, 5 and 6 to cut the chicken into pieces.
Lay the chicken breast-side up on a cutting board. Cut the chicken between the breasts and through the bone, using poultry shears.
Cut through the ribs, removing the spine from both sides of the chicken.
Separate the thighs, legs and wings from the breasts by cutting along the joints. Cut the tips from the wings.
Cooking the Chicken
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper inside and out if baking the chicken whole. Season on all sides if baking in pieces.
Truss your chicken if baking whole. Using baker's twine, tie the legs together over the breasts. Wrap a line of twine over the wings and tie them against the breasts.
Place your chicken in a baking dish, breast-side up for whole chicken. Chicken pieces should be laid out flat and even in the baking dish, breast-side up. Place your digital meat thermometer probe into one of the breasts, deep into the meat without hitting the bone.
Place the chicken in the oven and attach the thermometer probe to the thermometer. Set your thermometer to go off when the internal temperature of the breast meat has reached 160 degrees Fahrenheit. A 3- to 4-pound whole chicken should take about 75 to 90 minutes to cook; a 5- to 7-pound chicken, about 120 to 135 minutes. Chicken pieces weighing 3 to 7 pounds should take about 45 to 90 minutes to bake.
Remove the chicken from the oven. Let it rest for five to 10 minutes before cutting or serving.
Always use some type of meat thermometer to determine the internal temperature of the meat before serving.
Add a broth or cream of mushroom soup to the baking dish during Cooking Step 4 to simmer your chicken instead of roasting. When simmering your chicken, reduce the average cooking time by 15 minutes.
The internal temperature of chicken must reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit before it can be safely consumed.
When preparing chicken, always use a dedicated raw meat cutting board made of plastic or silicon to inhibit the spread of any harmful bacteria.
Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meat.
Sanitize your cutting board, counters, sink and any other area that may have been touched by raw chicken or your hands.
David Hoskins has been working as a freelance writer online since 2009. A majority of his work can be seen on eHow, covering topics in business, arts and crafts and general knowledge. He is pursuing a bachelor's degree in English at the University of Oregon and will be continuing into graduate school majoring in creative writing.