You don’t have to wait for left-overs to make homemade chicken salad. With very little prep, this is an easy way to cook moist and flavorful chicken ready for making delicious chicken salad.
1 whole free-range chicken (preferably air-chilled)
1 jalapeno (optional)
coarse salt to taste
fresh ground pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F
Pat dry the chicken and remove any giblets from inside the carcass.
Place the chicken breast-up in a heavy-bottomed frying pan (preferably cast iron).
Stuff the chicken with half the lemon, half the onion and half the jalapeño.
Place the other half of the lemon, onion and jalapeño face-down directly onto the pan next to the chicken.
Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top of the chicken (approx 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper).
Put in the oven and cook for 1 hour.
Remove the half lemon from inside the carcass and squeeze the juice onto the pan all around the chicken. Squeeze the juice from the other lemon half onto the thighs where the legs meet the chicken and put both lemon halves back in the pan.
Put everything back in the oven and cook another 40 minutes.
Remove the whole pan from the oven and remove onion (and jalapeño if included) from the inside of the carcass. Let the chicken rest in the pan for 5 minutes.
Transfer the chicken with the juices from the pan to a deep dish. Cool in the refrigerator until the chicken is cold to the touch (at least a few hours depending on the size of the chicken. To speed the process, take apart the chicken before cooling by removing the legs and pulling apart the carcass.
Once the chicken is cooled, pull the desired meat off of the bones and place in a bowl. The best parts for chicken salad are the breast and thighs. Drumsticks can be used, but be sure to avoid any cartilage. Discard the rest or set aside for making chicken stock.