Saturday, 26 July 2008

Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken

As I have mentioned several times in this blog, my main purpose here is to have an online repository of my recipes. I am doing just that except that sometimes some dishes are so simple and so common in our dining table that I've forgotten that I haven't blogged it yet. One of these is this simple roast chicken that my kids often request on weekends.

Inasmuch as I'd like to have a perfect smooth-skinned roasted chicken, my picture belies the fact that I use a rack. Having a rack tends to dry out the bottom of the pan a little. I like to have some crusted bits in there to give lots of flavour to the gravy.

There are so many ways of roasting chicken. Some recipes have the chicken positioned upright, some puts the chicken on one side then move to the other side after a period of time, for some you have to put in butter underneath the skin, some asks you to put in everything with it, and so on. What I'm recording here is the very simplest way that I know to roast a chicken while still retaining that all-important juiciness in the meat - specifically in the breast (picho) area.

To do this, you can see in my procedures that for the first half of the baking/roasting the chicken is placed breast-side down. This makes the juices to run down to the breast area and keep it moist. The downside is it will result in a little bit flattened breast in the final product. Silicone anyone? ;) But I'm sure you'd trade flat chests ... er... breasts with extra juiciness, wouldn't you?

Okay so much for breasts. Lemon is optional because recently I've been noticing that sometimes it lends some bitterness in the underside of the chicken. This comes from the lemon skin and I really have no clue how to resolve it. Though it does give a boost of a little sourness in the gravy which greatly enhances it. If I don't use lemon in the inside I just squeeze about a tablespoon of lemon juice in the gravy.

If price is no object, I would definitely suggest you use organic free-range chicken. In my experience, they consistently give the best flavour not only in the meat but results in much better gravy as well. I have heard from Stel and read from my current cookbook bible (The New Best Recipe) that brining the chicken before roasting improves the flavour by a mile. I shall try that next time and report the results here.

Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken (about 1.8 kg)
3 tbsp butter - either in room temperature or melted
salt and pepper
herbs and spices (optional)
lemon (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F.
  2. If you buy the chicken from supermarkets they are usually bound by a string around the wings, legs and feet. Remove all the strings from the chicken but keep the wings tucked under the chicken.
  3. Tie the chicken around the feet only.
  4. (Optional) You may use half or a whole lemon. Pierce it all over by a fork then put it in the breast cavity via the hole at its end.
  5. If using melted butter, spread it all over the chicken with a pastry brush.
  6. If using room temperature softened butter, use your fingers to slather the butter all over the chicken.
  7. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over.
  8. (Optional) Sprinkle all over whatever herbs or spices you want to put on it. If need be, omit the salt and pepper.
  9. To calculate how long to bake, give 25 minutes for every 500 g  of chicken. So our 1.8 kg bird is to roast in the oven for a total of 90 minutes.
  10. Place the chicken breast-side down in a metal roasting pan (you may use a rack if desired). Bake in the preheated oven for half its baking time (in this case 45 minutes).
  11. Remove from oven and turn it so that it is now breast-side up. At this point I usually sit it on a rack but it's up to you if you want to or not.
  12. Immediately return back to the oven and bake for the remainder of its baking time.
  13. When done, remove from oven and place on a serving dish. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for about 10-15 minutes while you're making gravy.
  14. Serve sliced with roast potatoes, gravy and veggies.

Chicken Gravy

2 Tbsp chicken fat or butter or vegetable oil
2 heaping Tbsp flour
2-3 cups chicken stock (approximate)
salt and freshly milled black pepper
2-3 tsp lemon juice (optional)

  1. Remove the chicken fat or drippings from the roasting pan but retain about 2 Tbsp.
  2. Put the roasting tin on the cooker hob and heat up the fat.
  3. Once moderately hot, sprinkle the flour on it. Cook the flour (preferably with a wire whisk) with the fat for a few minutes.
  4. Add the stock gradually in 1/2 - 1 cup batches. For each addition, bring the mixture back to boil while continually stirring making sure to scrape the bottom for all the roasting bits left in the pan.
  5. Once all the stock is added, bring back to boil and then lower heat to simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
  6. If the stock is too thick add more water or chicken stock. If too thin then simmer it longer until the desired thickness is achieved.
  7. [Optional] Add a squeeze of lemon juice.
  8. Taste the gravy and add salt and/or pepper if necessary. Strain liquid into a serving jug. Serve hot.

Roast Chicken

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