Marinating a whole chicken
When using dry seasonings and aromatics to flavor a whole chicken, duck or turkey or even roasting beef and pork, all you really have to do is rub the seasonings all over the meat, wrap it in cling film and allow the flavors and to penetrate the meat. But when using liquid marinades or ingredients that tend to slide off the meat (especially from poultry skin), it gets a little trickier.
For decades, I marinated whole chickens and slabs of roasting meat in boxed containers where the remain submerged in the marinade. One problem is the wastage. I’d use a lot of marinade to make sure that the poultry or roast is completely covered. Otherwise, I have to take the container out of the fridge every few hours and turn whatever it is that I am marinating. Another problem is the space consumed inside the fridge. So much space for one chicken because of the container.
Quite by accident, I discovered Ziploc bags with pleated sides and bottoms. They’re like brown bags — expandable but, once sealed, they are completely leak-proof. They are reusable too. Just wash them inside and out with warm soapy water, drip dry, and store for future use.
How did I discover them? My daughters went on a trip to the Pawikan Conservation project in Bataan and needed water proof plastic bags to store supplies. It’s an annual school three-day trip and they patrolled the beach to observe the pawikans and, if lucky, watch them lay eggs. The girls had small notebooks, pens, flashlights and cameras while on patrol. And because they have to cross streams on foot, their equipment had to be secure inside their bags.
The thing with Ziploc bags is you cannot buy them per piece. I bought a whole box and, after the trip, I had so much Ziploc bags left. Then my husband, Speedy, cooked tequila pork loin and followed the cooking instructions in the cookbook to the letter. He needed Ziploc bags, I gave him one, and how he marinated the pork loins gave me an idea. The bags are large enough to hold a whole chicken, so, why not? It saves a lot of space in the fridge (the bags can be stacked one on top of the other), the meat need not be submerged in the marinade, and turning is a breeze — just turn the entire bag and that’s it.
Naturally, I want to be able to do the same thing with a whole duck or turkey. Or even a 5-kilogram slab of roasting beef. But there are no Ziploc bags that large. Then, I saw something called brining bags in The Pioneer Woman Cooks and I’ve been searching for these bags since. I haven’t been to my favorite kitchen stores lately (Living Well, Gourdo’s and Cooks Exchange) but I’m really hoping that they sell these brining bags and that they are available in time for the turkey I will be roasting on New Year’s Eve.