This episode is also going to be a little different. Don’t be worried, change is good!
The difference in this meal and the discussion we are going to have about it have been directly influenced by a show I watched on Netflix and I didn’t really make many changes. The show is called The Hairy Bikers Chicken and Egg. In this series the hosts travel to 4 different countries and sample their most famous chicken and egg dishes and make their own versions. They start in the UK which is their home and this is the episode that moved me to defrost a chicken and get busy! There isn’t going to be an exact recipe that I can add like I usually do but I can give an ingredients list and instructions on how to use them!
Let’s start with the bird. I used a regular roasting chicken that I had gotten on sale and stuck in the freezer intending to use it for practice on the smoker but then I saw this show so the birds fate changed. Like I said, just a regular 3 or 4 pound roasting chicken. My bird came with all of the bits inside but they are easy enough to scoop out and trash or use in the gravy which I don’t because I am too squeamy, I even wear gloves when I scoop them out! After you remove the guts rinse the bird inside and out with cold water, this is just to get all the funk from the packaging off and out. Once you have a defunked bird pat ‘em dry with some paper towels, this will help the skin to crisp up during the baking. Now that you have a dry bird get out the kosher salt and black pepper and liberally sprinkle the inside and outside of the bird. Yes, the inside! This will help flavor from the inside as well as the out. Now this next bit didn’t come from this show but an Alton Brown show. I portion out a stick of butter and work the pats under the skin and this time I put some minced garlic in with the butter so that we could have a little roasted garlic flavor to the meat. If you choose this step then wait to salt the outside of the bird until you are finished stuffing the butter in as you will end up knocking most of the salt off.
Now for the stuffing. The things you stuff in the bird will also flavor the meat and the drippings and we love flavor and drippings! I wanted some citrus notes so I went with half a lemon, half a lime, half a yellow onion and a handful of parsley that I just ripped from the bunch, it doesn’t need to be pretty it’s just stuffing.
Ok, the bird is ready. Let’s work on the accoutrements. I went more traditional like the show and picked up some baby carrots, baby potatoes and leeks. These go into the roasting pan directly with about 2 cups of chicken stock and half a bottle of white wine. You can add some fresh herbs to this if you want but I skipped the herbs and went with a grapefruit. The liquid helps kind of braise the veg and also makes for a tasty gravy at the very end.
Now that our roaster is ready and the bird is ready, lets get this guy on his throne! He should go breast side up, I was drinking some of the cooking wine and ended up with a upside down chicken that was a little difficult to carve. Yes, when I was smooshing that butter under the skin I should have noticed but did I mention the wine? After you get the bird on the throne stick it in the oven at 375 for about an hour, there is probably an exact formula for this like so many minutes per pound but I have already mentioned the wine so after about 45 minutes check the temperature, the chicken packaging will tell you that it needs to be cooked to 165 degrees and most folks follow this like gospel but it doesn’t take into account the carry over cooking. If you cook this bird to 165 and let it rest like you should you will end up with a bird that has been cooked to 175 and it will be dry despite all the fancy things you put in the pan!! Once the bird is 150-155 and the juice from the puncture is clear then turn off the oven and give it a few minutes to rest in the heat before you pull it and cover it with foil and let it rest on the counter.
I wanted a side besides the taters and carrots so I picked rice. I only had some of the boil in a bag kind but whatever you have on hand will work if you even want to make rice. I had an extra leek left so I decided to roast them and chop them up and stir them into the rice. Fancy like you get in a package but truly homemade. I quartered the leek and drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and stuck them in the oven with the bird. They only took about 20 minutes and the rice only takes 10 minutes so I started all of this after the chicken had been for about 25 minutes. No matter what kind of rice you make don’t use water to cook it if you don’t have to. The boil in a bag called for 4 cups of water so I used the rest of the wine and chicken broth that didn’t get added to the roasting pan along with a pinch of salt and the ends of the leeks that I was just going to trash. For traditional rice use the tasty liquids but skip the veg bits so you don’t have to fish them out. For the leeks I just rough chopped the quarters and stirred them into the rice with about ¼ cup of the cooking liquid, traditional rice might not need the extra liquid added unless you just like juicy rice.
While the bird is resting and the rice is off to the side getting all sexy we are going to make the gravy. The gravy is going to come from the roasting pan only, all the stock and wine and drippings are going to be magically transformed into a thing of true beauty. This is suprisingly simple and I am late to this party so forgive me if ya’ll already know this. Put all that sexy cooking liquid into a sauce pan and simmer it until it reduces by about a 1/3rd and taste it. This is the time to add any anything to it such as salt or pepper or thyme or whatever you feel it needs because after the next step there is no going back. Make a cornstarch slurry which is equal parts cornstarch and water mixed together and add it to the simmering gravy, stir twice and kill the heat. The slurry will thicken the gravy just a bit because we didn’t reduce it by that much.
Everything is cooked so serve it up and enjoy!!
Here is your super technical recipe type thing:
- Roasting Chicken- as big as you need
- Veggies such as potatoes and carrots or parsnips or beets or fresh green beans or snow peas
- 750ml bottle of white wine- again use which one you like I had Sauvignon Blanc
- 32 oz chicken broth
- Salt, pepper, butter, garlic, cornstarch
- Fresh herbs- parsley, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass, chives, sage. Chicken likes them all
Defunk and dry the chicken, sprinkle inside and out with the salt and pepper, stuff the cavity with herbs and an onion and put in a roasing pan with the veg, broth and wine and roast for about an hour depending on the size of your bird.
Get all the liquid from the roasting pan and simmer in a sauce pot until it is reduced by about ⅓ then stir in that cornstarch slurry and kill the heat.
Carve your chicken into attractive hunks and serve alongside the veg and in this case rice and top it all with that magic sauce you made!
Thanks ya’ll!! Happy cooking!