Thursday, January 12, 2017

Welcome 2017 | Roast Chicken, A Menu Staple

The bustle of the holidays are behind us and a new year stretched out ahead.  It's hard to believe we are already halfway through January.  We really did enjoy the long break with our boys and squeezed in lots of family time (some of my favorites were ice skating on Fountain Square, a day spent antiquing with Andrew looking for his annual nutcracker, snow tubing, Christmas movie watching and baking with Charlie).  I tried to slow down and enjoy the season, tried to finish shopping early, not be over ambitious with my baking, to the keep the decorations minimal and meaningful.  I think we can sometimes get lost in trying to make it all so special or fulfill every holiday activity we imagined, that we forget to be still and just savor the time together and let go of the unnecessary expectations we put upon ourselves.  Each year I get a little better, a little more laid back with all the preparations and less wrapped up in the fuss.

Now that a bleak winter lies between us and spring, I'm all about lots of cozy, candle lit dinners, mornings by the fire with a cup of tea, lazy Sundays reading good books, family game nights and baked after schools snacks with homemade hot chocolate.  So, basically lots of eating and taking it easy!  Ha!  

I definitely have some repeat offenders when it comes to cooking this time of year.  One recipe that I've been making several times a month since October is roast chicken. If you've never roasted your own chicken, I strongly suggest making it a 2017 resolution. (side note...one of my resolutions this year is to cook a lobster - I've been completely intimidated by the whole affair, but 2017 is the year to conquer that crustacean!  Though roasting a chicken is far less intimidating in my opinion!!) There is nothing more comforting than a roast chicken for dinner.  Your home will smell incredible and everyone will be happy.  All for very minimal effort.  See why I make it so often?! :)

When it comes to buying a whole roasting chicken, I have had the best results with the Amish chickens sold at Kroger.  The worst chickens I've had have come from Whole Foods. (sorry, but they tend to be a bit scrawny and dry.)   Trader Joe's organic chickens are also very good and a little bigger than than Amish chickens.  We do have a local farm that sells amazing chicken too if you plan ahead.

There are two ways I prepare a roast chicken - one is with a pan gravy and the other is with roasted  vegetables.  It just depends on what I feel like making.  The gravy is excellent and probably the kids' favorite.  I on the other hand, can never get enough vegetables when cooked with a roast of any kind so that version is mine.



Here are the recipes for both:
Perfect Roast Chicken with Pan Gravy 
(source: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

1, 5-6 pound roasting chicken
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 large bunch thyme
1 lemon, halved
1 head of garlic, cut in half
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 Spanish onion thickly sliced
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 425.

Remove chicken giblets.  Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry.  Remove any excess fat and left over pinfeathers (this sounds much worse than the reality).  Place chicken in roasting pan,  liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken.  Stuff cavity with a bunch of thyme, both halves of the lemon and all the garlic.  Brush the outside with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Tie legs with kitchen twine and tuck wing tips under the body of the chicken.  Scatter onion slices around the chicken.  Roast for 1 and half hours. Remove to platter and cover with foil.

Prepare the gravy: Remove all the fat from the bottom of the pan, reserving 2 tablespoons in a small up.  Add the chicken stock to the pan and cook on high heat for about 5 minutes, until reduced, scraping the bottom of the pan.  Combine the 2 tablespoons of chicken fat with flour an add to the pan.  Boil for a few minutes to cook the flour.  strain the gravy into a small saucepan and season it to taste.  Keep it warm over very low flame while you carve the chicken.  (You can completely skip the gravy step if you are short on time,  I usually serve with gravy if I'm making this on a Sunday night, and skip the gravy on a weeknight - too many messy pans for a week night!)


Perfect Roast Chicken with Vegetables
(source: Barefoot Contessa)
1, 5-6 pound chicken
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 large bunch of thyme
1 lemon halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons butter, melted (or olive oil)
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2 inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed and cut into wedges (remove the bitter core too)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 425.

Remove chicken giblets.  Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry.  Remove any excess fat and left over pinfeathers.  Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken.  Stuff cavity with bunch of thyme, both halves of the lemon and all the garlic.  Brush the outside with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Tie legs with kitchen twine and tuck wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place onions, carrots, fennel in a roasting pan.  Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme and olive oil.  Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place chicken on top.  Roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Remove chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil or about 20 minutes before serving.


    

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