If baking a small chicken is on your menu, but you forgot to remove it from the freezer, you may still be in luck. Whole chicken broilers, also known as fryers, are smaller than whole roasters, usually weighing between 3 and 4 pounds. These little birds take a few hours to thaw, so if you are out of time, it is perfectly safe to bake the chicken from frozen -- with a few precautions, of course.
Whole chickens -- large or small -- usually contain a plastic or paper bag filled with giblets, stuffed inside the abdominal cavity. The giblets are the gizzard, heart and liver of the bird and although they are safe to eat, the bag is not. If you know ahead of time you will be baking the chicken from frozen, remove the bag of giblets before freezing or buy chickens that don't include giblets.
Time Plus Half
If your small chicken is as solid as an ice cube and giblet-free, remove the packaging and place the chicken in a baking dish just as you would if it were thawed. Keep in mind that a frozen chicken requires 50 percent more time to bake than one that is not frozen. Which means, that if a fresh, 3- to 4-pound chicken takes 1 1/2 hours to bake in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven, the frozen one will take approximately 2 1/4 hours.
Some stores sell stuffed chickens. If you buy a small, frozen chicken that already contains stuffing, do not defrost it. The stuffing ingredients are highly perishable and thawing the stuffed bird before baking may contaminate the chicken with bacteria that leads to foodborne illness. Baking the chicken from the frozen state, according to the directions printed on the packaging label, ensures the final cooked product remains safe to eat.
Large or small, raw or frozen, chicken must cook to a safe minimum internal temperature. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165 F. Because it is unsafe to rely on color changes to determine whether a chicken is cooked thoroughly, a meat thermometer is your best option. Push the thermometer's probe into the thickest part of the chicken -- but not touching bone -- to check internal temperature. If the thermometer doesn't reach 165 F, cook the chicken some more and measure the temperature again before serving.
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