Sunday, November 13, 2011

Roasted Chicken [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: Easy. Should be compulsory with a first apartment.
Time: 10 minutes prep, 90 minutes or so to roast
Serves: 4

Without question, this is one of the most versatile and impressive dishes you'll ever make, takes very little skill and no fussing once it's in the oven. It's been a staple at the Koulermos house forever--Sunday night suppers, dinner parties, and (gasp!) as a substitute for turkey on Thanksgiving before we started sharing that day with the Kaisers and indulging in their fried turkey. (Maybe we can get them on for a guest shot with that fried turkey thing--it's insanely good.)

Back to the roasted chicken. Here's the deal. I now make two at a time and either freeze the extra meat for homemade pot pies or make chicken salad or have it for another meal during the week. And you must, MUST, just once, take all the leftover bones and make the homemade stock recipe I'll post after this. Just once. Please. And if you don't have time right then, you can even throw the bones in the freezer and make a huge batch of stock later. If you, despite my admonitions, decide to throw the bones out anyway, I will personally drive to your house and rescue them. They are a precious commodity!

Zack made me a homemade stock convert a few years ago and it has elevated the flavor of every dish it touches, from soups to pan gravies to adding a touch of magic in pasta sauces (you freeze the stock in ice cube trays for manageability).

Roasted Chicken

1 oven roaster (I used two regular young chickens for this recipe)
1 cup dry white wine
Half a stick of butter
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 485 F.

Wash the chicken and remove the paper sack inside the bird containing the liver and gizzard. (Saute separately or discard if that's not your thing.)

Put chicken in roasting pan and douse with the white wine.

Cut the butter into pieces and place over the bird.

Sprinkle the herbs, salt, and pepper generously over the chicken.

(I've also cut a lemon in half and inserted both pieces inside the cavity for a lemony flavor. And if I didn't have enough wine for the bird, I'd use chicken stock.)

Once the oven has preheated, roast chicken in top third of the oven at 485 F for about 25 minutes, to give it a nice brown start. Then reduce the heat to 375 F and continue roasting the chicken for another hour or so. About 30 minutes before it's done, you can add a handful of baby carrots. No easier way to cook a veggie.

Using a gravy strainer, separate out the good stuff from most of the grease. Place the good stuff in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling and add a bit of your already-on-hand precious chicken stock or about a cup of canned chicken stock. Reduce for maybe five minutes. Meanwhile, in a cup, stir a little water into two tablespoons of flour to make a smooth paste. Remove the gravy from the heat, and slowly, while whisking like it's your job, add the flour paste. Continue stirring to avoid lumps. (I still get a few so I strain the gravy before serving.) Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice for brightness (Zack taught me that too!)

Suggested soundtrack: Claude Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun"

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