I've been hearing folks refer to "Opelousas-style" baked chicken for quite some time now, so it finally made me curious enough to investigate their recipes.
I was born in Opelousas, Louisiana and spent my early years just down the road from Opelousas, so ya'd think I'd know more about this "style" of chicken before I turned 60 years old.
"Opelousas" chicken, indeed: after reading several different versions of the recipe, I realized that "Opelousas-style" chicken is just what my family, friends and neighbors always called our basted or roasted chicken. It was served as plate lunches, or church functions, and even showed up in our school cafeterias, kinda often.
When they serve it professionally, like for plate lunches, it's cut in halves or quarters. If you're really hungry, ya go for the half, with the "sides" that go along with it, like beans, corn, greens, salad, etc.
When it's cooked for family at home, we usually cut the chicken in smaller pieces, like legs or breasts, (Mama used to use a 'whole fryer' that she'd cut into portions) and slow bake it, basting every 15 minutes.
Lemme show you how my family did it:
Here's a pack of chicken thighs that I got on sale at "the Pig" down the street last week. (Piggly Wiggly) I highly seasoned it with our own blend of Cajun seasoning, worcestershire sauce, and Crystal hot sauce. I don't measure, I just dump and sprinkle 'til it looks about right. This step is hard to go wrong.
I laid out the pieces in this baking dish, leaving a basting hole open. Too much butter goes on top... like I said, "too much butter goes on top!"
Make an aluminum foil tent and cover the chicken, then stick the chicken in a preheated slow 275 F oven for half an hour.
--Take the chicken out of the oven, remove the foil, dip a big spoon into the hole and baste the chicken over and over. Looks good already, doesn't it?
--Put the chicken back into the oven, for another 15 minutes and savor the wonderful smells filling the house.
After the 15 minutes, take 'er out of the oven and baste it good again, then back in the oven she goes. Repeat this basting process every 15 minutes for about 2 hours, or 'til golden brown, and I use my meat thermometer to check and make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees, Fahrenheit.
You might think it sounds kinda labor intensive, taking the chicken out of the oven and basting it every 15 minutes. The reason I take it out of the oven is because it needs to be basted very, very well, and trying to do this while it's in the oven could be awkward and sloppy. I dose each and every thigh with a big spoonful of the butter sauce, and then, I dump a few extra spoonfuls on anything that doesn't look shiny. After 7 bastings, I checked the temp of a piece of chicken that I thought looked done. 167 F, almost perfect for chicken.
Mmmm-mmmm!! Tasting it, I knew that all the work was more than worth it.
A bowl of beet salad, that didn't make the photo, was the starter for this meal. Black-eyed peas accompanied the chicken to dinner.
The chicken was very moist and tender, Cajun seasoning all the way down to the bone.
If you take the time and baste your chicken this way and set a timer, you will be amazed at the best dang baked chicken you have ever tasted.
--An added bonus when ya remove the chicken, you are left with this amazing chicken butter sauce.
I could have thickened it with cornstarch, roux, or gravy mix and used it as an amazing gravy, but, instead, this time, I poured the sauce into a jar and saved it in the fridge to use for other meals.
Make ya some and let us know how ya love it. It will make ya chicken a star.
Now, since I was born in Opelousas, and raised in the Opelousas area, and this being one of the wonderful chicken dishes from Opelousas family homes, and even though, to us, it was just our regular basted or roasted chicken, next time I hear it called Opelousas-style chicken, I can take pride in my heritage and brag all about it with obvious knowledge and experience of the dish.