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Simple Saturday Roast Chicken and Vegetables

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!

 

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Gravy, Potatoes, Poultry, Vegetables

 

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Gobble, Gobble (Up Some Turkey Meatballs!)

Okay, so the title isn’t so great today, but I was trying to come up with some way to introduce today’s meal. Sean picked this one, and to be honest, I was little surprised he wanted this, but he elected Turkey Meatballs in Gravy, Baked Potatoes, and Broccoli. Since we’ve already made broccoli on the meal plan three times I believe, I won’t bore you with the steamed broccoli that Sean has chosen. I am going to find some more broccoli recipes since I am getting a little bored with it myself (if anyone has any suggestions, please pass them along!)

Okay, so turkey meatballs are not tough to make and they can be quite tasty. I use ground turkey in my chili all the time instead of beef and I think it tastes better and it is better for you. The one thing about ground turkey that I have found is that it can be very dry and needs seasoning. Personally, I have found through some experimenting that the best seasoning to add to ground turkey has been McCormick’s Montreal Chicken blend seasoning. It has a nice mix of garlic, salt, pepper, onion, paprika and orange peel and adds a really nice flavor to the turkey. For a little bit of added moisture to the mix I also put a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce as well. Other than those additions, this is basically the same exact recipe I used for the meatballs last week for our spaghetti and meatballs dinner.

Turkey Meatballs

2 slices of white sandwich bread (I prefer Pepperidge Farm, it works well for me)

1/3 cup milk (whatever type you have will work here)

1 pound ground turkey

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 tablespoons McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Blend Seasoning (use less or more, depending on if you like the flavor)

2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 egg yolk

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

Vegetable oil

1 recipe All Purpose Gravy (recipe to follow)

Remove and discard the crusts from the bread then tear the bread into small pieces. Use a fork to mash the bread pieces and milk to a smooth paste in a large bowl. Add the ground turkey, Montreal Chicken seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, Parmesan, parsley, egg yolk, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, a dash of pepper (or more if you like) to the mashed bread. Stir the mixture gently until combined and uniform (I always use my hands – it gets messy but it mixes better. Take your rings off before you do this). Form the mixture into 1 1/2 inch round meatballs (about 12 meatballs if you make them this big, if you want smaller, go for it and you’ll get more. I always make smaller for the turkey).

Pour the oil into a 12 inch skillet and heat over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate and discard any oil left in the skillet.

Place the skillet back over medium heat and add the gravy, Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and add the meatballs. Continue to simmer, turning the meatballs occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Very, very easy to make. As a matter of fact, I think I will have Sean help me with this one since he did such a good job last week with the dinner he helped make. The all-purpose gravy recipe really is an all-purpose gravy. You could use it for any type of meat or poultry or just for over mashed potatoes, and you don’t need any pan drippings to make this one. It relies solely on vegetables. chicken and beef broth.

All Purpose Gravy

3 tablespoons butter

1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine

1 rib celery, chopped fine

1 onion, minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups chicken broth (used canned, box or your own. I am using my own because I have it. otherwise, use low sodium)

2 cups beef broth (same as the chicken. i don’t have my own right now, so I am using Swanson’s low sodium)

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried

5 whole black peppercorns

Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and cook until softened and well browned, about 9 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly browned, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the broths and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20-25 minutes, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface.

Pour the gravy through a fine-mesh strainer (or gravy separator) into a clean saucepan, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Season the gravy with salt and pepper to taste.

You can make the gravy ahead of time and refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 4 days, or freeze it for up to 2 months. Just re-heat it over low heat, stirring to recombine, until warm and smooth.

A nice, tasty, very versatile gravy recipe to use any time. Sean wanted baked potatoes tonight ( I personally would have gone for rice) so that’s what were making. You can make baked potatoes the traditional way in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour to 1 hour, fifteen minutes, or you can do it this way, by using the microwave first and then baking them to finish them off. I have found that starting them in the microwave and then cooking them the rest of the way in the oven produces a nice fluffy potato with a crispy skin and takes half the time of just baking them.

Baked Potatoes

4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried

Butter (for serving)

Salt and pepper (for serving)

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Poke a few holes in each potato with the tines of a fork and microwave the potatoes on high until slightly soft to the touch, 6 to 12 minutes, turning them halfway through.

Carefully transfer the potatoes to the oven and cook directly on the hot oven rack until a knife blade glides easily through the flesh, about 20 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and open them as soon as possible (the longer a potato sits after being removed from the oven, the more dense the flesh becomes. Opening immediately allows the steam to escape, resulting in a more airy potato). Serve immediately with butter, salt and pepper (or anything else you like to add – cheese, sour cream, chives, crumbled bacon, etc.)

Throw in the broccoli, and we are all done for the evening. I am getting to like these easy meals. Quick cooking, quick clean up and we can spend more time together instead of a long time in the kitchen. You could cut the meatball recipe in half if you want less meatballs and then use the leftovers to make some chili or some turkey sausage (which is what I am going to do. I’ll post the recipe for this on another day). Tomorrow is our meatless night, so we will be having Potato Soup tomorrow, which we made last night so it’s already done and just needs to be re-heated. We’ll be having a salad with it and some crunchy bread, but a nice sandwich would go along well with it also if you were looking to do that. I love a good sandwich! Any favorites out there? I plan to do a sandwich recipes day soon, so pass along you might know of and really like. Enjoy your dinner tonight!

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Gravy, Potatoes, Poultry, Sauce, Vegetables

 

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