Why You Should Always Pick The Smallest Chicken, According To Ina Garten

It's been two decades since the "Barefoot Contessa" debuted on the Food Network (via IMDb) and as of now, Ina Garten has authored 13 cookbooks. One can't imagine the culinary scene without her, yet a closer look at her career trajectory shows Garten was a latecomer to the game. As a young girl, the now well-known chef was shooed out of the kitchen by her mother (via Insider) before going on to work at the White House.

Despite her unique rise to celebrity chef status, Garten is regarded as a leading expert in food by Better Homes & Garden, which is made possible through "decades working with chefs and learning the techniques that take their cooking to the next level," according to Garten's website. Some of these techniques she shares in her appropriately titled cookbook, "Cook Like a Pro," which features (on page 91) a way to elevate humble ingredients like chicken thighs by "serving it with a rich, flavorful sauce made with white wine." Garten has another poultry tip up her sleeve, this time a best practice for picking out an appropriately-sized chicken. 

Bigger is not always better

Back in her days as a specialty food shop owner, Garten spent nearly two decades working on the perfect chicken salad recipe, according to her biography. So, if anyone knows chicken, it's Ina Garten. Her reputation as a trusted source was solidified in 2020 when her recipe for roast chicken got people through the first year of the pandemic (per USA Today).

One key piece of advice from the Food Network star is to go for the smallest chicken, ideally staying around five pounds as anything over that will "not roast as easily" (via Southern Living). Garten offers more, albeit hotly debated, advice on the subject that serves as a time-saving hack. And you might think the chef is promoting unsafe practices in the kitchen when she says there's no need to "wash poultry before you cook it," per Today. This is a claim, however, that's seemingly backed by the CDC in a 2019 Tweet, stating you can "kill germs by cooking chicken thoroughly, not washing it." 

Still, chicken washing is a personal preference, so we'll let you decide on that.