I prefer white meat, and my husband eats only dark meat — and we are definitely not the only mixed-meat household out there. The solution is to buy whole chicken (either already cut up or not). Luckily, this is also a budget-savvy move: whole chicken is less expensive than packages of single parts.
But dark meat chicken is at its best cooked to an internal temperature of 170-175 degrees (it will be chewy at a lower temperature), while white meat should be cooked to just 160 degrees so it doesn't get dry. Confusing the issue--the thicker and larger breast pieces take longer to cook than thighs and drumsticks.
To ensure that both white and dark meat is cooked to perfection, place all the white meat on one half of your sheet pan and the dark meat on the other. After 30 minutes, take the temperature of the dark meat: remove it from the oven when it hits 170 to 175 degrees. If the breasts are large and thick, as they so often are, they may need another 5 to 10 minutes to hit the requisite 160 degrees.
An instant read meat thermometer, which you can pick up for about $15, is invaluable: use it to ensure your chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature — and not overcooked. You can’t judge doneness by the color of the meat: it can be white and underdone, or slightly pink and overdone.
The wand should be inserted at least 1-inch so that the tip is at the center of the thickest part of the meat. (Be sure the thermometer stem doesn’t hit the bone, which will skew the reading.) Many thighs are not thick enough to go from the top down, in which case you will need to insert your thermometer horizontally, parallel to the bone.
You needn’t take the temperature of every piece — just the largest dark piece and the largest white piece. The one minute of your time required to take the temperature ensures every piece of chicken will be cooked to safe, juicy, tender perfection.
Lemon Honey Glazed Chicken
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 5-pound chicken, cut in parts
1 large lemon
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet pan with cooking spray.
2. Combine the oregano, basil, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and sprinkle it evenly over the chicken. Place the white meat on one half of the sheet pan and the dark meat on the other half, set the timer for 30 minutes, and place in the oven.
3. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Grate 1 teaspoon of zest from the lemon and squeeze 3 tablespoons of juice and set both aside. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium high; add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the honey and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and cook 1 minute. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened and shiny, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest. (The glaze will thicken as it cools.)
4. When the chicken has cooked 30 minutes, take the temperature of the thighs: transfer to a plate when they reach 170 degrees. Return the white meat to the oven and check the temperature after 5 minutes: cook until they reach 160 degrees. Return the dark meat to the sheet pan and brush all the chicken with the glaze: return to the oven for 3 minutes to set the glaze. Serves 4 to 5