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Roasted Chicken (and Gravy) 101

Oooooh. Roast Chicken. Doesn’t that sound so delectable, time consuming, and…difficult? For the longest time, I equated the science of roasting a chicken with roasting a turkey (the latter of which is something I’ve never done), and we all know the stereotype of the perfect-looking, but ultimately DRY, Thanksgiving turkey. Which takes hours and hours to cook. So I would just pick up a pre-roasted chicken at the store, when they would go on sale, and use the time I saved cooking the chicken instead doing something pointless and fun, like playing Skyrim or something. Heat it up and whoa! Dinner is served.

My friends. I don’t know WHAT I was thinking. Perhaps my cooking hubris had gotten out of hand, or perhaps I was blinded by the savings of 5 kroner for an entire uncooked chicken over a pre-roasted one. Regardless, the damage was done–I’d bought the damn chicken, and I was going to have to cook it. I consulted the Book of Armaments, aka AllRecipes.com, and found some likely recipes, two of which I Frankensteined into one, delectable, fantastic recipe for roasting a chicken. Awright (said in a Jarvis Cocker way):

Dead Easy Roasted Chicken (with Gravy!)

  • 1 whole, raw, thawed chicken.
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 celery stalk
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Butter
  • Milk or cream
  • Corn starch

Equipment: Oven, roasting pan, possibly a meat thermometer, stove, saucepan.

Right, just to warn you in advance, this will take a while to cook, so don’t make this while you’re in a swivet about what to make for supper in 30 minutes. Nuh uh. This is easy to make, but you can’t skimp on the cooking time, which is about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, then about 20 minutes to a half hour of sitting time, while you round up the rest of the meal.

That said, let’s get to the instructions. Rinse your chicken…or don’t. Dry it off with a couple paper towels. Rub it all over, outside and inside, with salt and pepper. Don’t go crazy on the amount of salt and pepper, but you probably won’t be eating the skin anyway. Wash your celery and lemon. Cut the celery into a few smaller stalks and stuff your bird with them. Cut up your lemon. What I did was cut about three slices out of the middle of it, then quartered each end piece. I stuffed the end pieces into the chicken along with some butter. Now slide your fingers under the skin on the breast and legs of your chicken (that sounds so dirty), so that the skin loosens from the meat. Shove some butter there under the skin that you’ve just loosened. Not a Paula Deen amount of butter, but some. Put those slices of lemon under the skin, too. Pop that bad boy in the oven, and let it roast for an hour and 15 minutes or so. If you like, you can baste the chicken once in awhile with the lovely juice that’s collecting in the pan. You don’t need a baster, just a spoon will do.

If you like, you can cut up some veggies and put them in the pan, turning them once in awhile, to roast with the chicken. I’ve used carrots, and they turned out great! Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). That means stick the meat thermometer in the thigh (not touching the bone) until the line stops moving, then read off the temperature. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, I’ve heard rumblings from the Inner Sanctum of Chefs that you can stab Mr. Chicken in the thigh and then press the thigh, to see what color the juices that flow out might be (reddish = NOT DONE YET). I’m no expert, so I rely on Science and her Tools, in the form of the meat thermometer.

Take your chicken (and veg) out of the oven, and put them in perhaps another pan, cover them with aluminium foil while you pour the chicken drippings out of your roasting pan and into a saucepan. Or you can be super-fancy and just put your roasting pan directly on a burner on your stove. This, folks, is where this recipe gets seriously delectable. Take a cup or a measuring cup. Pour some milk or cream into it. How much? I dunno…perhaps 1-2 deciliters.  Now take some corn starch. Surely you have corn starch in the house? No? Flour might work, but I haven’t tried it in this particular recipe, so I wouldn’t know how much to use, plus there’s the whole gluten factor. Put about 2 tablespoons of corn starch in the milk, and stir until it’s dissolved. Pour this mixture into your pan, then stir it and the drippings together. I use a wire whisk, because it gets any previously unseen lumps out fairly well and, if you’ve put your roasting pan directly on the burner, it scrapes those nicely carmelized bits of dripping off the bottom of the pan and into the gravy you’re making. Let this mixture thicken a bit, then start adding more milk or cream, stirring and heating it, until it gets to be the consistency you like. It sounds like a huge deal, but it isn’t, and the more often you make this, the easier it gets.

Take the gravy off the heat and carve up your chicken. Now, once upon a time, my sister showed me how to carve a chicken, and I’ve remember how to do it, many years later! Since my sister hasn’t yet started a cooking show (as she SHOULD!), I direct you to this video. Aren’t you glad you let the chicken cool off a bit before carving it up? If it’s still too hot, use a fork to help you.

Now you’ve made roasted chicken AND gravy, and you’ve gotten a feel for it. You can switch out the spices and herbs with which you season your bird, use different things to stuff it, but now you know the basics. It’s SO much easier than you think it is to make , and it’s worth it to plan ahead if you want to make it for supper one evening. Enjoy!

PS:

*grin* Yes, some of you have roasted many chickens in your life, and you are thinking “Jeez, how basic can you get? And she left out __!” Well, darling, go find some other food blog, because this one’ll bore you to tears. 😉 I’ve roasted only two chickens in my life (and one duck), and I have seen the light, so to speak, of roasting one’s own, and I must spread the word to other cooking newbies like myself, so that they can avoid–Cooking Panic!

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3 responses to “Roasted Chicken (and Gravy) 101

  1. There is nothing cuter than watching yer blogger filch skin in her handlebar pigtails. She’s been a roast chicken fan for a long time! Seriously, is there anything that says ‘Fall is here’ like roasted stuff and gravy? Glad you’ve got da power! Try a little brandy or some cider in your baste, BTW.

  2. You had me at “cider”. 🙂

  3. Ma ⋅

    Keep up the good work! Maybe I can learn the right way to bake a chicken.

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