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Roasted Chicken and Gravy + Preparing for Thanksgiving

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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: Roasted Chicken and Gravy + Preparing for Thanksgiving

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Roasted Chicken and Gravy + Preparing for Thanksgiving

Sometimes there's nothing more satisfying that a simple roast chicken, is there? Nothing fancy, nothing special.  The best part is that it's almost like a blank canvas on which you can impart whatever flavors you're in the mood for.  And when prepared well, it can be amazing.

A couple of nights back, for instance, I was in the mood for simplicity and was frankly in a bit of a hurry.  Plus, I was so obsessed with the Thanksgiving food while at the grocery store that I forgot to stock the basics, so I grabbed whatever I could get my hands on and made happen what you see before you now...

After removing the giblet bag, then washing and thoroughly drying the chicken, I salted and peppered the cavity.  Then I halved and peeled an onion, and placed it inside.

Normally I use other things along with it, like a halved lemon and/or unpeeled garlic cloves.  You know, any little thing I can find.

I took this opportunity to remove the wings - we never eat them, and I wanted to use them for stock.  So I took my knife and removed them at the joint.  It took a while and some sawing but I managed to find it!

Then it comes time to coat the chicken with either butter (or margarine) or olive oil.  In this instance I was more in a butter/margarine mood, but olive oil is lovely as well.  So I got very intimate with the chicken breasts, going so far as to carefully lift the skin and place the spread between the skin and the breast (I make sure to do this with turkey as well).

Once complete, I smeared spread all over the outside of the chicken as well.

Then comes time for the seasoning.  This time around I used a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper, then garlic powder and dried thyme.  Of course I've been known to use parsley, dried basil, rosemary...whatever the mood.  Again, this is all about imparting the desired flavor - the possibilities really are endless, aren't they? It's a beautiful thing!

A cup or two of water in the pan for drippings and to prevent scorching, and into a 400 degree oven it went.  This was a 7 lb chicken and it took 1 hour and 45 minutes to bake up to a golden brown and juicy bird.  Sure, it didn't look like much prior to roasting but let me tell you, it was a thing of beauty.

Meanwhile, it came time to make the gravy.  Into a large pot went the wings, the ends of the onions that I'd used, the neck and giblets.

Again, I didn't have much else to go into the pot since I don't have any old veggies like celery and carrots - at least, nothing that's not going into Thursday's dinner.  So I left it at that, with a bit of salt and pepper.  The pot was filled with water and was simmered for 2 hours.

After 2 hours were up, I strained out the solids and the scum which had floated to the top.  I was left with a LOT of liquid but I wanted to save it so I only took out 3 cups and left the rest.

Into a medium saucepan went 3 tbs of butter.  Once melted, 1 1/2 tbs of flour were mixed in and cooked.  What is this called, children? Of course! It's called a roux!

You can see that the key to this is browning the roux.  This is what gives color to the finished product, along with dictating the thickening power of the roux.  Here's the before...

...and here's the after:

Yummy.  Just yummy.  Once the roux reached this color, stock was added a bit at a time and thoroughly combined until smooth.  Then it was left to simmersimmersimmer until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

I do wish I had gotten a picture in the bowl! But it was one of those last minute, get-everything-on-the-table moments.  Suffice it to say, after swirled with one more tablespoon of butter, it was lovely and rich and divine.  Not to mention good preparation for this week's poultry and gravy extravaganza.  Since I'm making the gravy for Thanksgiving the day before (when there will be much more natural light!) I'll post those pictures on Wednesday.

A little bit of extra work - you know, placing butter and/or herbs between the skin and meat, and making a gravy rather than opening a jar, can elevate a simple roast bird to something drool worthy! Trust me on this!

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Blogger Holly said...

This is our go-to meal here. We love roast chicken - you gave me a few new tips to try! And we make stock too. I felt right at home here!

November 23, 2010 at 12:24 AM

Blogger Tonya said...

You make it sound so simple. I am all thumbs in the kitchen. I cook for my 17 month old and my husband cooks for me.

November 23, 2010 at 12:38 PM


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