Baking Chicken On The Oven Floor Will Give You Quick Results

Holiday meals may be a festive time, but this year's presentation of turkey and trimmings at Thanksgiving and Christmas is facing an unpleasant reality, with a turkey shortage likely forcing prices higher than last year. That may be prompting a shift to alternatives — including chicken, suggests Bon Appétit – as the centerpiece for holiday meals. The shift to chicken, in particular, will address more than just the cost of the holiday meal. It will also pay off in terms of shortened cooking time, giving hosts more time with their guests.

Here's how it works out: Serving 10 people requires at least a 10-pound turkey, which Taste of Home says will take around three hours to cook in the oven. On the other hand, feeding that same crowd will require just a couple of four-pound chickens. It will take about an hour and 45 minutes to have the chickens cooked, according to Test Food Kitchen

But if you really don't want to spend time waiting for your chicken to cook, you can take advantage of a method developed by chef and cookbook author Ned Baldwin for Houseman, the New York restaurant he operates (via Epicurious). Minus the time it takes to preheat your oven, Baldwin's technique will have your chicken ready in 18 minutes — or no longer than a half hour, depending on how closely you follow the technique — although you may have to buy three small chickens to be successful.

Roasted chicken in a hurry

The roots of Baldwin's technique, as described by Epicurious, can be traced to his early days in the restaurant business, when he learned that some restaurants only partially cooked their roast chicken, holding it at a warm temperature and waiting until after someone ordered it to finish the cooking. That approach, Baldwin told Epicurious, quite simply "grossed" him out, offending his belief that neither chicken nor fish should be cooked more than once.

To start using Baldwin's technique, take the racks out of your oven, and then take a half hour to preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Next, you'll take the chicken, from which the backbone has been removed so that it will lie flat, and place it skin-down in a heavy skillet. With just the backbone removed, your chicken should be done in about a half hour; if you want to reach the ultra-quick 18-minute mark, you'll need to remove the breast and rib bones, too.

And while it's not part of the actual cooking process, Baldwin's technique calls for adding between 1% and 1.5% of the deboned chicken's weight in salt to the chicken at least two hours, and preferably a day, before putting it into the oven. At the low end, that level of salt, Baldwin explained to Epicurious, gives the chicken "a neighborhood restaurant level" of seasoning, while the higher end is "a fine dining level of salt."