Would you try to cook a chicken in a watermelon?
There is a new food trend, folks, and it involves cooking a whole chicken in a hollowed out watermelon.
You read that right. The goal is to create a sweet little bed for the chicken to sit in. To do that, you need a watermelon big enough to fit the chicken. Cut a cap off the watermelon lengthwise, meaning sit it on its side and slice a piece off that allows you to be able to see the flesh inside. Then, scoop out all the delicious watermelon, leaving just about a 2 inch wall of red watermelon flesh. Then, place the chicken inside, season with salt, pepper and soy sauce, cover with the watermelon cap and roast...for a LONG time. Around 5 hours in a traditional oven. Less if you use your outdoor grill or something like a the Hasty Bake Charcoal Grill, which allows for an outdoor smoky flavor also.
Essentially this is similar to slow cooking a chicken. The watermelon provides protection from direct heat and impart some moisture as well. The chicken cooks in it's own steamed juices, along with some watermelon juice. The result is a soft, fall off the bone chicken, just like slow cooker chicken. Downside is there is no crisp skin, the entire thing is, well, soft. The flavor isn't overly watermelonny, just slightly sweet as if you cooked it with a bit of orange juice or maybe mildly sweet BBQ sauce.
We would adjust this recipe slightly from the suggested soy sauce seasoned one and instead season the chicken before AND after placing it into the watermelon. Also, we can't live without a crispy skin so we would recommend also taking the watermelon cap off the last 30 minutes of cooking and possibly broiling on low for the last 25 mins also. Our recommendation for seasoning? Salt and pepper, yes, but also perhaps some chili powder, garlic and balsamic vinegar instead of soy. Balsamic vinegar and watermelon are a great summertime salad combination so it's natural they would work together in this way.
Will you try watermelon cooked in a chicken? This is how we would do it.
Watermelon Roasted Chicken
1 Large Watermelon
1 Whole Young Chicken (5-8 Pounds)
1 tablespoon paprika or chili powder *if you like spice, use chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
Cut a 1/4-inch-thick horizontal slice off the bottom of watermelon, so it won’t roll. Discard. Cut off the top third of the melon horizontally, then scoop out seeds and enough of the pulp from both remaining parts to make room for the chicken.
Season cavity of chicken with salt, pepper and paprika/chili and sprinkle the same on top of the chicken .
Mix balsamic vinegar with minced garlic and onions and rub all around the chicken.
Place chicken into the cavity of the melon, and pour the rest of the balsamic vinegar mixture on top of the chicken.
Secure the watermelon cap onto the chicken, using presoaked skewers to lock it in place.
Place watermelon either onto your grill and cook covered for and cook for 3 ½ hours around 325-350 degrees. OR cook in a preheated 350 oven for 3 hours. Then increase heat to 425 and cook another 1.5 hours, the last 30 minutes with the watermelon cap off. When done, make sure internal temperature of chicken reaches a minimum of 165 degrees.
Remove chicken from watermelon and set aside. Pour out all the juices from inside the watermelon and cook them over low/medium heat until slightly reduced. Serve chicken on a platter with the sauce.