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After making a perfect roasted chicken, your job is not yet finished! Take advantage of whole-bird cooking by using the leftover bits and pieces to make homemade stock. The carcass can be frozen, along with the neck bone, gizzards, and heart (omit the chicken liver–it’s flavor will overpower the stock), so you don’t have to commit to making it right away. You should, however, do this one step once your chicken has finished roasting:

Place the roasting pan over 2 burners on medium high heat. Deglaze with about 1 quart water, scraping up the bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Reduce just slightly by 1/4 (about 3 cups will remain), and then cool, transfer to a container, and refrigerate or freeze. Skim off the solidified fat from the top before use.

1 chicken carcass (from a 4 1/2-5-pound bird) – this one had been roasted with a big handful of thyme stuffed inside of it, so feel free to include such leftover herbs
3 cups chicken “gravy” (method above), thawed if it has been frozen
3 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, large dice (feel free to include the skin)
3 cloves garlic, smashed (again, skin is fine)
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf

1. Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with cold water by 3 inches.
2. Bring to just under a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 2 hours.
3. Strain, cool, and refrigerate or freeze.

Yield: about 5 quarts

What really makes this stock shine is the addition of the chicken “gravy”. It immediately flavors the stock with a richness that captures the character of the chicken. For real! Don’t get me wrong–I always have some sort of store-bought broth in my pantry to lend flavor to simple dishes. But whenever I have the opportunity to make homemade stock, I am never
disappointed. The flavor is deep and layered and beats the store-bought kind any day.

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Ah, you’ve returned. Well good. Now we can get back to that chicken.

To back up just a bit, instead of placing the quartered chicken on a plain old baking sheet, let’s add some color. Chop five or so medium leeks and clean well. Scatter them on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and drizzle with oil and a touch of S & P. When cooking the chicken, lay them directly on the leeks. All other steps outlined in Part One remain the same.

While the chicken is cooking, peel and dice potatoes and butternut squash and boil in water in two separate pots. Once they are fork-tender, drain, combine in one pot and mash or whisk until smooth. Season with butter, S & P.

Now, there’s one more installment in The Perfect Roasted Chicken Series. I know you’re thinking, Damn–how could this recipe get any better? Come back tomorrow to find out.

Every time you roast a five-pound chicken, that is. And that chicken has to be quartered, you know. Besides that, there are only…nine more rules:

1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Season the chicken well with salt and freshly ground black pepper on each side.

3. Sauté the legs skin side down over high heat in a pan with a bit of oil. Cook until the skin is brown and crispy; check on it frequently to make sure it does not burn.

4. Transfer the legs to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 10 minutes.

5. While the legs are roasting, saute the breasts as you did the legs.

6. Once the legs have been roasting for 10 minutes, add the breasts to the sheet pan and reduce the heat to 375-degrees. Cook for 10 minutes more.

7. Reduce the heat again to 350-degrees and roast for an additional 10 minutes.

8. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.

9. Eat as is–I won’t judge you, it’s delicious–or stay tuned for Parts Two and Three to make it special enough to eat in your underwear. Stick with me and you’ll end up with something that looks like this: