Recently on Twitter, I was introduced to the Brown-Bag Chicken recipe via @atrandom, @FostersMarket and @themarthashow. A handful of sweet reader friends were curious as to the combustibility factor of a brown paper bag in a gas oven. Well, I happen to have a gas oven, a brown paper bag, and a somewhat fearless approach (propelled by naiveté) to trying new cooking methods.
So I announced that I’d be the guinea pig. I’d make the brown-bag chicken in my gas oven and let everyone know if, indeed, it went the way of the biblical Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (nonflammable). The brown-bag bake is an intriguing concept considering if I strike a match anywhere near the same material, poof! Inferno. However, I am instructed to place it into a 400-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours and it’s supposed to be right as rain.
First off, I tested this recipe midday so that if anything went amiss, my boys at the El Paso firehouse two blocks away would be there to rescue. (I took them Thanksgiving dinner once and have been in their good graces ever since.) I preheated the oven to 400 degrees.
I used a brown-paper lunch bag. The old school kind that my momma used to draw pictures on so they didn’t look so plain next to my friends’ Star Wars and Rainbow Bright lunch boxes.
On a chicken breast, I sprinkled dried rosemary, sea salt, black pepper, and paprika. I put the seasoned breast into the bag with a quartered shallot and folded the bag up tight, placing the seam-side down on a small baking sheet. I baked 32 minutes at 400 degrees, checking every ten minutes to see if my bag was catching aflame.
Result: DELICIOUS, moist chicken. I am absolutely going to use this cooking method again with chicken breasts and a whole chicken, as the recipe originally suggests.
I was able to take photos of the unscathed bag after 32 minutes in the über-hot oven, but when I tried to capture the chicken, the steam fogged up my camera lens, and my stomach wouldn’t let me wait for vanity’s sake. I gobbled it down in five minutes, but I promise when I make it again, I’ll be more patient and snap a few of the goodies within.
So go ahead and brown-bag bake, my friends! It’s safe and scrumptious!
Yours truly, Sarah
Recipe off Martha Stewart’s website:
- Serves 4
- 1 (3- to 3 1/2-pound) chicken
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, halved
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon ground hot Hungarian paprika
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Rinse chicken, pat dry, and remove any excess fat. Generously sprinkle chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Place onion and rosemary inside cavity; rub skin with paprika.
- Lay a standard-side brown paper grocery bag on its side; place chicken inside bag and tie bag with kitchen twine to enclose. Place bagged chicken on a rimmed baking sheet; transfer to lower third of oven, making sure there is plenty of room between the bag and the top of the oven. Roast chicken for 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove chicken from oven and carefully open bag to release steam. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should reach 165 degrees and juices should run clear when thigh is pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving; serve warm.