A busy day of laundry, errands and ordering new glasses for Sean kept me from writing earlier in the day, but the meal is still simple if you want to use it for another day. I love a roasted chicken. Nice crispy skin, moist chicken and nicely roasted vegetables make a great meal, and the best part is you can cook the whole thing in one roasting pan, cutting down on the pots and dishes to clean after the meal.
A couple of things about roasting. if you have the time to do it, a container large enough and the refrigerator space, brine the chicken the night before you roast it. Brining really can bring out the flavor and tenderness of not only chicken, but turkey and pork as well. As the meat soaks in the brine it absorbs it, and then retains it during cooking, resulting in very juicy and excellent tasting meat. It’s not essential to do it before roasting, but it can really add to a roasted meal. For 4 pounds of chicken (either a whole bird or pieces) use 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of sugar dissolved in water in a container or bowl large enough to hold the brine and the meat. Then submerge the chicken in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Remove the meat from the brine, rinse and pat dry with paper towels, and that’s it, your good to go. The second thing I recommend is using a roasting pan with a rack in it. Chicken roasts better when it’s not resting on the bottom of the roasting pan. If air can circulate up and around the bird, the meat will cook more evenly and the skin will be crisper. If you don’t have a roasting pan with a V-shaped rack, you can use a flat rack inside the roasting pan. if you don’t have that either, you can always use a bed of chopped onions, carrots and celery to raise the chicken off the bottom of the pan and then use these vegetables later on for gravy.
Roast Chicken and Vegetables
1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) whole chicken, brined if desired
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon minced parsley
Salt and pepper
6 garlic cloves, peeled
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 small onions, peeled and cut into quarters
2 ribs celery, cut into chunks
8-10 small red-skinned potatoes (or other potatoes you have, just halve or quarter them)
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup water
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix 2 tablespoons of the butter, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together. Spread the butter under the skin over the breast of the chicken. Season the chicken with additional salt and pepper all over. Toss the garlic, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes and parsnips in a large bowl with the oil until well coated. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables to the bottom of the roasting pan. If using a V-rack, they can go under the rack. If using a flat rack or no rack, form a nest around the edge of the pan and then place the chicken in the center of the vegetables, breast side up. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and brush it over the chicken. Pour the water into the roasting pan. Roast the chicken for 40 minutes.
Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees, rotate the position of the pan in the oven, and continue to roast the chicken until the thickest portion of the breast registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes longer. Tip the chicken so that the juice from the cavity runs into the roasting pan. Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes before carving. Turn the oven temperature back down to 350 degrees and continue roasting the vegetables if you want to brown them some more while the chicken rests. If not, you can re-heat the vegetables on the stove top before serving over medium heat in the roasting pan for about 5 minutes.
After you remove the vegetables, you may want to use the pan drippings to make a quick gravy for your chicken. it’s a very simple recipe and easy to do, just watch out, because the pan drippings may be salty.
Quick Chicken Gravy
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
Salt and pepper
While the roasted chicken rests, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add 1 cup of broth to the roasting pan and scrape up any drippings. Pour into a large measuring cup and spoon any fat off the top. Add the remaining broth as needed to measure 3 cups.
Slowly whisk the measured broth into the saucepan. Add the bay leaves and simmer until the flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
That’s it, the whole meal is done, and you have two pots to clean (1 if you used a foil pan you can throw away). Don’t throw away that chicken carcass either. Save it in a storage bag or throw it in a pot of water right away and make some homemade stock with it. One carrot, one onion, one stalk of celery, 2 bay leaves, and enough water to cover the carcass is all you need. Let it come to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for a few hours. Strain out the carcass and vegetables and you have plenty of your own stock to use in various recipes. Trust me, it tastes so much better than what comes in a can.
And we have another meal in the books. Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday, so I won’t be cooking anything but the snack foods we talked about on Thursday, but I will be writing about something; I just haven’t decided what that will be yet. Any suggestions? I’d love to hear if you have any ideas of things you might like to see or topics to tackle. Leave a comment and let me know. Two final notes: First, the Fish and Chips from last night turned out great! The fish was crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside and not greasy at all, and the fries were awesome! I recommend the recipe and we’ll certainly have it again one day. Secondly, I made a trip to Williams-Sonoma today and bought a new 12-inch skillet, a flat rack for a roasting pan or baking sheet, a new gravy separator (Sean dropped the other one and shattered it, accidents happen!) and a cake mix for a lemon bundt cake they have that tastes really good and we can never find (I know, I should make it from scratch, but I’m lazy when it comes to baking). I am sure we could have bought more, but we tried to limit our spending for the day and had a coupon to use. It was a good trip and I am sure we’ll go back again. I hope everyone has a great night and get ready for the game tomorrow!