Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Roast Chicken Dinner

Jo has previously posted her Roast Chicken recipe which is much fancier than mine.  Admittedly, Jo is a much more precise and imaginative cook whereas I'm rather slap-dash with things.

That's what I love about roasted chicken--it's easy, throws together quickly, and is flexible on ingredients but is still really tasty.  With my decided lack of preplanning these are all key elements in getting something on the table around here. Recipe follows below...
Roast Chicken Dinner
  • 1 4 - 4.5 lb whole chicken
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 2 cup mini carrots
  • 1/2 medium onion 
  • 6 tbl butter (4 tbl softened, 2 melted)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbl poultry seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Remove chicken from package, remove innards pack in cavity, wash well under cool water and pat dry.  Place in large baking dish (I use a lasagna pan) with breast up.  With fingers, carefully separate the skin (don't tear it) from the breast on each side to create two pockets.  Put 2 tbl of the softened butter in each pocket and smoosh it evenly across the breast meat.  Then rub the remaining 2 tbl of melted butter all over the outside of the chicken and tie the drumsticks together.  Here's the chicken all buttered in the pan prior to tying the legs together.

Next, wash, halve and chop the potatoes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.  I personally prefer yukon gold potatoes for this recipe because they are more flavorful than russet which need, personally, a ton of butter and sour cream to make then palatable. 

Then halve and chop the onion (vidalias were on sale...yay) into 1/4 inch slices.  I personally prefer to halve the mini carrots before cooking so they are more evenly distributed in the pan.  Notice I say "mini" instead of "baby" carrots--there is a difference which is discussed here.

Throw all the chopped veggies in a bowl, add the poultry seasoning, 1/8 tsp of black pepper, pour the broth over it all then mix.  I was using broth made from bouillon which is why I didn't add any salt at this point, so if you're using something less inherently salty go ahead and add some to taste.  Note on the veggies--I use a basic onion, potato, and carrot mix.  However, feel free to use any combo you like.  Leeks, turnips, celery, all work--just stick to roots and vegetables that can withstand long baking without turning to mush (for example, broccoli would turn out nasty).   
Evenly distribute the seasoned vegetables and broth around the chicken in the pan then put it in the oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes lower the temperature to 375 degrees and continue cooking for another 40 minutes or until the breast meat reads 170 degrees.  Then remove the chicken from the oven, drain any collected juices out of the cavity into the pan and let the chicken rest for 20 minutes on a cutting board.

Notice the legs are tied together in this photo and not with twine.  Cooking twine is one of those things on my grocery list that I'm constantly forgetting or not finding so I just use 100% cotton thread--something I always have around the house.  Hey, it works.

Oh yeah, why the temperature change?  Well, there are two reasons for that.  The first is that it results in a lovely, crispy skin.  The second is that it decreases the cooking time thereby resulting in a more juicy chicken.  Of course, there are many different schools of thought on this and good arguments on all sides (long slow roast vs. hot fast roast vs. combo).  I've seen recipes where they reverse the order of the temperature changes--40 minutes at 375 then 30 at 450.  Having tried all of the suggested methods this is what I've personally found most consistently results in both a juicy bird and a crispy skin.  
While the chicken is baking I take the giblets packet, put them in a pot and slow simmer them in three cups of water (tt looks kind of gross at first, but trust me, it'll turn out yummy) Once the chicken is done and removed from the pan, I take the giblets out of the pot and discard saving the liver.  Mash the liver and return to the pot, then add the juices from the bottom of the roasting pan and bring the entire mixture to a boil.  Then, stirring constantly with a whisk, gradually add two to three tablespoons of flour until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat then season as needed with salt and pepper. Voila!  Perfectly complimentary gravy.  
By now the chicken has rested 20 minutes so go ahead and carve away.  Jo's recipe gives really good instructions on how to properly carve a bird so I suggest you reference that.  My carving method results in legs/wings, breast meat, and "ravaged by wolves" or the remaining meat which I used my fingers to rip off the bones thereby resulting in meat that looks like it was attacked by wild animals.  

If you have time, save the carcass to make broth.  I'll get Jo to post her recipe how to do that one of these days. If not, well, make sure to well wrap it so animals don't attack your trash.

There you have it.  Another minimal fuss meal.  Which, as we're a minimal fuss household works just fine by us.

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