Bake the Perfect Chicken, Turkey or Pernil (Ham)

En Español
It is about that time to start planning how we are going to roast the turkey or pernil (ham or pork shoulder) for the upcoming holidays. We always look for recipes  that will help us yield a tastier, more tender and juicy turkey. Today I baked a chicken, but if your question is "How can I prepare the perfect turkey or ham," then the following instructions and links will help you.

Bake the perfect tasty chicken any day.  My favorite and recommended way to roast chicken, or turkey and ham is to brine first. When brined, the meat comes out tender, moist in the inside while it's crispy and nicely browned on the outside. Every time I want to bake chicken I prefer brining because the outcome is a great tasting baked chicken like the one you see in the photos. Before I move on to my favorite baked brined chicken recipe, I want to share the following information on roasting a turkey and ham because I know you will need this info pretty soon.  Before the big turkey day, if you haven't try brining before, I recommend you to practice with a chicken first and make a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. While you are at it, you might want to try my herbed brown gravy, it is delicious!

What is brine and where is the recipe? You can find my brine recipe here with additional helpful information: Mari's Brine.

How long to Brine:

Whole Chicken ( 4 to 5 pounds ) 5 hours or 1 day
Turkey Breast (4-5 pounds ) 1 - 2 days
WholeTurkey (12 -14 lbs 1 - 2 days
Pernil / Ham (10-14) 1-2 days

Instructions and Notes: 
a) The meat, in this case turkey or ham , must be completely submerged in water with salt. A very large pot or kitchen bucket will make a great container.
b) 1/4 cup of salt for every 2 - 2.5 liters (8-10 cups) of water that is needed to cover the meat .
c) My variation on the flavor of brine for Thanksgiving and Christmas is that I add a packet of Sazón Goya with coriander and annatto per 2 liters of water. I also add more garlic and oregano along with all the other ingredients to make it more Dominican delicious.
d) Before baking remove turkey or ham from the brine, and discard the water. There is no need to add more seasoning.
e) Bake covered over a rack, and then leave uncovered the last 30 minutes to brown and is crispy on the outside. Cooking time varies depending on type of oven and temperature you set it to cook. I set mine to 325°F (165 °C) this way it cooks slow and evenly.

How long to bake a turkey or ham @ 325°F (165 °C) 

8  LBS12  LBS14  LBS18 LBS20  LBS24  LBS
 Time in oven without stuffing  
2 hours 45 minshours
hours 45 mins
h 15 mins
4 hours ½
Time in oven with stuffing
hours y ½
hours  ½
hours 45 mins
hours 15 mins

*(1 kilo = 2.2 lbs)

Ham (Pernil) 
8-10 lbs.12 -14 lbs.16-18 lbs.
20-24 lbs. 
 Time in oven
hours½4-5 hours
5-6 hours
6- 7 

Mix all the herbs and spices together in a pot, follow the mixing instructions and in goes your bird.  As easy as it sounds and there is no need to get your hands greasy with butter or seasoning, the salt water does it all for you. The sugar and honey in the brine helps your meat to brown naturally with an appetizing color.

Bake the Perfect Chicken

3.5 lbs. chicken
Brine, use Mari Brine

Instructions for perfectly baked chicken:
1. The night before baking prepare brine as directed. I f you haven't saved it , get my brine recipe here: Mari Brine.
2. Submerge the thawed chicken in a brine, cover it, and place it in the fridge.
3. The next day set brined meat over a rack on a baking dish, place in the oven at 375°F (190°C) and bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes breast side up. Cover the tips of the chicken legs with aluminum foil once they have a golden brown to avoid over browning. Bake until the chicken is cook thoroughly and browned to your preference.
4. Before serving, leave the chicken to sit in baking pan for 15-30 minutes to allow the juices to be absorb. Some people cover it with aluminum but I prefer not to to keep the skin crisp. After the juice absorbing time is up, transfer your baked chicken/turkey to the serving dish, carve and enjoy!

Notes: If you do not use a rack to elevated the chicken for baking, it will not brown underneath. What I recommend you to do is the following: bake breast side up for 50 minutes, turn breast side down and bake for 20 minutes, and finally turn breast side up and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes or until completely cooked to your preference. The amount of time varies depending on the size of the chicken, check out these guidelines for delicious results in Better Homes and Gardens: How long to cook chicken.

Don't forget to get a copy of Holiday Cakes, for you and for a friend. I have included great cake recipes for you to prepare for the holidays, and make your family happy and love you more!

Happy baking!


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