Thursday 15 November 2012

Roast Chicken Trilogy

Yesterday I had an insatiable craving for roasted chicken all day. It was a terrible distraction at work. The thought of biting through crispy, crackly skin and into moist and juicy chicken. As my nostrils fill with the savoury aroma of all those flavours and the earthy note of thyme had my saliva glands on overdrive. The moment I was out of the office I went straight to work on it. If you've never prepared a whole chicken before, you should make a point of doing so soon. It's easy, approachable and hard to mess up. Not to mention very affordable for the amount of people you can feed from a whole chicken. 

I picked up a whole, fresh chicken from my butcher and gave it a rinse in cold water. Then I patted it dry all over with paper towels. The chicken must be dry before preparation, even all inside the cavity. I let the chicken sit out for about an hour, which wasn't enough time to bring it quite down to room temperature (ideal) but it worked none the less. I decided to keep this very simple. Both the inside of the cavity and the outside got a generous sprinkling of coarse salt and some fresh ground pepper. I also decided to use fresh thyme which was incredibly divine, but rosemary is just as good. I placed a small handful of thyme sprigs inside the cavity and sprinkled some thyme leaves over the bird too. Then I trussed the chicken (a manner of placing the bird breast side up and wrapping a piece of string around it and securing the legs, crossed, in front of the cavity). The wings also get folded behind the back so it's almost doing a pin-up bikini model pose. lol

Then I placed the prepped chicken on a wire rack, over a pan, and placed it on the middle rack of a preheated 375°F/190°C oven and let it do it's thing for thirty minutes. Then, I carefully removed the pan from the oven and flipped the bird backside up to allow the skin on that side to crisp up a bit too. Then after 20 minutes, I turned the bird onto its back again and let it cook for another 20 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken. The best way to tell if your chicken is properly cooked (without a meat thermometer) is to check if the juices run clear and the legs move easily. The only hard part of this whole process is the next bit. After you remove the chicken from the oven, you must resist the urge to tear into it and let it rest for at the very least fifteen minutes. It may be the longest fifteen minutes of your day but the juices have to settle, otherwise they'll run all over the place when you carve into your chicken.

This gives you the opportunity to make a pan jus. Remove the grease from the pan and you will find crusty bits of chicken and stuff on the bottom. The French call this a "fond" and it is packed with flavour you do not want to waste! I placed the pan on a hot stove and deglazed it with some water (you could also use stock, wine, beer or any flavourful liquid). Not only will this clean the pan but all that fond will create a fantastic sauce. Bring the liquid to a boil and let it reduce for a few minutes. I added a spoonful of a great Bordeaux mustard that I have and whisked it in. 

I also had some parboiled potatoes in my fridge so I sautéed them in a little olive oil and crushed garlic cloves until they were slightly crispy. Then, to feel less guilty about the indulgence, I wilted some spinach in the pan after removing the potatoes.

What I was left with was roasted French-cut chicken breast with a mustard pan jus served over garlicky potatoes and wilted spinach for dinner (not to mention, at least three servings of chicken to enjoy later). 

All of the bones left over I am saving in my freezer. When I get about two more carcasses I'll make a nice homemade chicken stock (which I'll be sure to post about when the times comes). 

This was oh so delicious, fun, economical and made my kitchen smell amazing. The total cost of the ingredients was less than $15.00 CAD and I had enough food to generously feed at least four people. A meal like this at a nice restaurant would cost you much more than that. It pays to learn how to cook!

I hope you guys enjoyed this entry. Get inspired to try roasting your own whole chicken. There are limitless flavour combinations (lemon, different herbs, garlic, spices, ginger, jerk marinade, etc.. etc.. etc...). It's a terrific way to enjoy home cooked comfort food.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you guys for all of the feedback and support you've given me. So far, I am pleased to say, that this blog has received over 1,300 views around the world. You guys are wonderful and I really enjoy putting this blog together. I hope you enjoy it too. Don't be shy to leave comments, ask questions, and share with your friends and family.

This concludes perhaps the longest post yet! Mad love to you guys. 

Be happy and stay fed,


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