27 August 2009

Roast chicken with herb stuffing and gravy

I haven't cooked chicken for years. I stopped eating meat for many years only to start again after reading Nourishing Traditions. So in my quest for frugal and tasty meals, I came back to roast chicken. This is one of the easiest meals you'll ever cook but it can be made fancy enough for a celebration dinner, or simple enough for a chicken and salad sandwich. Chicken is very versatile.

The main thing you have to be careful of is drying the chicken out while cooking it. So don't overcook it, take it from the oven as soon as it's done and let it rest wrapped in foil for 20 minutes before carving.

I like to stuff the cavity with a herb stuffing. The herb can be anything you have growing or have bought, I used:
  • 3 slices of stale bread (any type of bread is fine)
  • 1 medium onion
  • a handful of parsley
  • a few leaves of sage
  • sprinkle of dried oregano - dried oregano has a different taste to the fresh and it goes well with chicken
  • 2 small eggs or one large egg

Put all that in a processor and whiz it up or chop it very finely.

To stuff the chicken:
Clean your chicken well by removing the gizzards and running water through the bird. Wipe dry with a kitchen cloth or paper towel.

Using a spoon or your clean hands, load the stuffing into the cavity.

When the cavity is full, separate the skin from the breast and slip a spoonful of stuffing under the breast skin. That will help keep the chicken moist while it's roasting.

I forgot to do this - tuck the legs under the chicken so they cook close to the body. Otherwise the legs will overcook at the ends like they have here.

Place the chicken in a roasting dish with a little olive oil and brush the chicken with oil to keep it moist. While it is cooking, baste the chicken with the juices that have collected in the pan. This will also give you a moist chicken.

Cook on 190 - 200C (370 - 390F) until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear. You can test this by inserting a sharp knife in between the breast and the leg and watch the juices come out. If they're pink, cook another 10 minutes. If clear, remove the bird and cover with foil to rest.

I served this with roast potato, pumpkin, corn and onion and a from scratch gravy.

Chicken Gravy
  • Remove the chicken from the roasting pan. You want the bottom of the pan just covered with juices and oil.
  • Add two level tablespoons of plain (all purpose) flour to the juices, along with salt and pepper to taste and stir it together. It should look like a loose paste. If it's too dry, add a little more olive oil.
  • Place the pan over a medium heat and allow the paste to turn brown while you stir it. Stand there and watch it because it will burn quickly if you don't.
  • As soon as it's a nice brown colour, add about 2 cups of water OR chicken stock OR a splash of white wine and water and immediately stir the gravy to stop lumps forming.
  • Stir until the gravy boils and thickens and then turn it down. Keep stirring until you have a nice brown sauce for your chicken. If it's too thin, allow it to sit on the heat to evaporate off some of the liquid.
Leftovers can easily be used. We had chicken salad the next day with this chicken and I made my sandwich for work using some of the chicken as well. But you could also make chicken stir fry, chicken curry, chicken pie or chicken casserole with dumplings. Don't forget to keep the carcass to make chicken stock or coup.

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