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Chicken is a versatile ingredient and choosing to bake, rather than fry, chicken gives you a number of healthier recipe options. You can bake a chicken whole, or divide it into parts -- the wings, drumsticks, thighs, and breast -- and bake them individually. Worried that you can't get the same crispy skin baking a chicken wing or a drumstick? With the right recipe and good preparation, you can get a healthier but just-as-delicious crispy skin on your baked chicken.

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1. Preparing a Whole Chicken for Baking

When you purchase a whole chicken from the store, it has usually been flash frozen. The first step in preparing a whole chicken is to unwrap it, set it on some paper towels, and allow it to thaw out in the sink. It is better to let it thaw slowly and naturally than in water, and this latter method can increase the risk of salmonella. Once the chicken is thawed, remove the parts you do not plan to cook, such as the heart, lungs, liver, and neck. The easiest way to remove these is to reach up through the large back cavity and pull them out. You should only feel the bones of the rib cage if you have removed everything properly.

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