food blogs. We've been asked to put up some of our own takes on recipes
and provide some information along the way. We hope you find it
We're about the tips, preparation and ideas, and we probably won't be
the most artistic. This is our first
recipe. We've picked something we think we
a lot about, and want to impart some knowledge along the way.
is quite possible that future recipes won't be as wordy. We hope you
enjoy it. We aren't standing around posing the food. What you see is
what happens while we cook.
We guess there are those who make Sunday night roast chicken night.
For us we switch up meals through the week and Friday is the
night. Somehow roast chicken fits the bill so we do it every 2 to 3
weeks..... on Friday night.
chicken shouldn't be hard,
yet, there are so many ways of doing it out there that it seems
There are so many variables (oven temperature, size of
temperature of the chicken before cooking, quality of the chicken) that
you have to find the recipe that works for you. After many,
roast chickens, the techniques and recipe we're showing here work
wonderfully for us. The one in the pictures was 'one of the
ones we've made'.
Besides the main recipe, we've included wine pairing
how to make
along with mashed
and how you should never throw out the
can use it to make
stock for the next bird.
But first, what chicken?
we get to that, let's talk turkey. Years ago there was a turkey
producer in Southern California called VIA TURKEY RANCH. As far as we
can tell the turkeys were all corn fed and you could really tell the
difference. Around the holidays they would turn up in special
cardboard boxes. We heard tell maybe they invented that concept. They
weren't frozen and they tasted great. None of the specialty producers
these days (we've never tried the ridiculously priced heirloom turkeys)
comes close. So, was it the corn?
Around here, on sale, Foster
Farms chickens can cost as little as 69-79 cents/pound. They are
chickens. What we've probably come to expect chickens to taste like...
ie, not much. There are several other producers and we have found one
that maybe tastes a little better: Mary's Chicken. Depending on which
you get they are 65-70% corn fed. Also, they are 'air chilled'. Mary's
talks about it here
They say, in part, "The air chilled method produces a better tasting
chicken. With no water added, the air chilled method keeps the "real"
chicken flavor and juices. No water is absorbed, so you get the natural
flavor of chicken." The Foster Farms chicken in my freezer says "may
contained up to six percent retained water." Thing is, on sale last
week, a Mary's chicken cost $2.30/lb (regular price something like
$3/lb). Let's say our 79 cent/lb Foster Farms chicken is effectively 6%
more given you are paying for water. That's still only 84
pound. A five pound chicken is going to cost $4.20. The Mary's is going
to be $11.50. That is a huge difference. Is it worth it? As you'll see,
our roast chicken is 'dry brined' and can use a lot of herbs (usually
rosemary) which is going to 'flavor' the chicken. With that, and the
sides and the gravy it makes a very good chicken even with the cheap
one. Also, for crisp skin lovers, could be that having a
that hasn't been water chilled will crisp up better (but also see our
notes on pH, below). That
being said, the Mary's does seem to taste
If you have the wherewithal, get the hang of a
chicken and then try them both. Let us know what you find out!
matter what you pay for your chicken, you can pay a lot less for
cardboard, though the nutritional content won't be terribly good. But a
lot of chicken tastes like cardboard. Why? Because it is way
Why? Because the FDA
told you to
There are various problems, but the one you hear the most about is
Salmonella. It IS dangerous. Cooking your chicken to 165
in the white meat kills 99+% of the salmonella. And pretty much turns
your chicken into cardboard. Generally your chicken producer is going
to tell you to follow the FDA's instructions. That may get
off the hook legally. Of course many chicken producers could do a much
better job in preventing salmonella contamination in the first place.
It seems that relying on the FDA temperature guidelines is the cheap
way out. Consider telling your chicken producer to do a better job and
buying chicken from producers that listen.
Can you ignore the
FDA guidelines? Sure the chicken police aren't in your kitchen.. But if
you do you are on your own. LEGAL DISCLAIMER: For safety,
FDA guidelines. We are going to explain how they work, but if you
decide to ignore what the government says, you take full responsibility
for your actions.
One way to reduce the risk of salmonella is to
purchase chickens from producers that have a better track record in
keeping it out of the production cycle. We have not made an exhaustive
attempt to find out who does the best job. We do know that Foster
Farms has had problems
Time vs. Temperature
After that you want
to make sure that you have effectively eliminated the salmonella.
thing is, it is more complicated than just what temperature you cook
the chicken. You will get a far more detailed explanation at
wonderful Serious Eats website, here
For the truly scientifically inclined, you'll find extremely
detailed USDA time/temperature charts here
cooking white meat to 165 pretty much kills salmonella
instantly. Cooking to 160 degrees and holding at least that
temperature, kills it in 15 seconds. The FDA guideline seemingly
assumes that nobody understands how it really works, so tells you the
temperature where you don't have to think about it. Here's the deal,
cooking the white meat to 140 degrees is going to get you really moist
chicken and to many people's tastes, just right. BUT, you
hold it at that temperature for almost one-half hour. Something else is
going on, though. When you take a roast chicken out of the oven and
leave it alone (don't cover it with tin foil unless you
mind softening that crispy skin you are working towards), the internal
temperature is going to keep rising. This is called 'resting' and you
almost always want to do that with chicken and meat. Cutting into the
product before it is rested releases all those juices you
stay in the bird. As the temperature rises during resting the amount of
time it has to be held at temperature to eliminate salmonella goes
The picture below shows a chicken that was taken out of the oven when
it was exactly 140 degrees at the thickest part of the breast. Fifteen
minutes later it had risen to 156 degrees. The chart above shows the
time/temp safety figures for dark meat (12% fat), 43 seconds at 156
degees supposedly gets rid of 99% of the salmonella. Actually for white
meat it is 37 seconds.
Interesting note: This is something we are still working
with. The chicken we made just before this one was 5 1/2
pounds and was removed from the oven at 140 degrees in the thickest
part of the breast. We didn't track the heat rise, but we
thought it was one of the best cooked chickens we've done. The chicken
above was made 3 weeks later and was taken out of the oven, as we said,
at 140 degrees. Twenty minutes later when we ate it we thought it was
slightly more cooked than we prefer (warning: most people would
probably find it to be just fine since it was by no means overcooked).
What was the difference? The chicken above is a Mary's. The one before
it was Foster Farms. At this point all we can think of is that the
Mary's is more dense as it has no added water. We'll have to experiment
and conceivably take a Mary's of that size (which is pretty big,
actually) out at some temperature below 140, track it to make sure the
heat rise is enough to kill the salmonella and see if it is more to our
liking. We're very picky about our chicken. We've only had
this particular probe thermometer for about 1 1/2 years and still
playing with it. Bottom line: Following these instructions will likely
get you a moist tender chicken and not one that tastes like cardboard.
But you'll have to see how you like your chicken (and make sure it is
safe to eat).
The basis of our roast chicken recipe comes from Glorious French Food
by James Peterson Originally published at $45, as we write
this, Amazon's got it for
$16.95. We really like the book and that's a good price). Mr. Peterson
gives you the legal disclaimers about the FDA guidelines and then says
he cooks his chicken to 140 degrees (see further below about how you
figure that out). Serious Eats has all kinds of other ways of
dealing with getting chicken to the right temperature. Check
out, but we're telling you how we do it.
Mr. Peterson's recipe takes a high heat approach. He cooks the chicken
in a 450 degree oven. Michael Ruhlman in Ruhlman's Twenty
agrees, saying that this gets the dark meat cooked quickly before the
white meat dries out. And gets you a crispy skin. What ALSO gets you
crispy skin is to rub it with Baking Powder! This raises the pH which
helps the proteins to break down facilitating crispiness. See more
about it here
. Depending on the size of the chicken, it is
going to be cooked in about an hour or less.
this talk about temperature! You can cook a chicken 'until the juices
run clear', but that means you have to make a lot of guesses about when
to start figuring that out and even then it is iffy and really doesn't
tell you when and if you are headed to cardboard chicken.. There is a
better way and we
truly encourage you to do it.
Like with just about
anything, using the right tools is the way to go and in this case you
need an instant read thermometer. Better yet, you need an instant read
'probe thermometer' where you can constantly monitor the chicken's
temperature while it is cooking. We've thrown a lot of money at
thermometers over the years, but recently found out about the devices
in Utah. Working with their units for about a year now, we love them.
Don't have long enough experience on how long they last, but so far
we're really happy. We bought the MK4 instant read thermometer (they
have one a little cheaper, but this is easier to read). They
a Chef's Alarm probe thermometer, but what is really the thing to do is
also get the SMOKE. You won't regret it (and no we haven't gotten
anything from these guys). We like to be in the living room while the
chicken is cooking and we could never hear our old probe alarm go off,
hence overcooked chicken. The smoke is for outdoor BBQ people who don't
want to stay near the grill. It has a remote receiver that
you the temperature (with alarm), up to 300 feet line of sight.
Works great from our kitchen to our living room. But there's
something even better about it. The thing handles TWO probes
This way you can monitor the temperature of your oven AND the
temperature of your chicken. We didn't know how far off our oven was!
And it tells you both when you're not even close to the kitchen. NOTE:
If you are interested, buy them from their website, not Amazon. The
one's on Amazon are from third party sellers, won't be warrantied and
actually cost more! Check out the warning at the top of their home page.
Seasoning, and yes we mean salt
Brining. Wait! Isn't brining where you put salt in water and drop the
food in and let it sit? Yes. The term we probably should be
is 'salting'. On the cooking shows you get dinged for not 'seasoning
the dish' enough. They mean salting. Guess they are just
the health issues of too much sodium. Salt is an important ingredient.
It may be a health issue for you, in which case follow your doctor's
advice. Meanwhile, salting helps the flavor of food and in the case of
'dry brining' can also make your chicken juicier. We used to
brine things like turkeys but found that our gravy was too salty. Now
brine. (We might still brine chicken parts, but that's
set of recipes.) We first ran across it in the Zuni
by Judy Rodgers. The day before cooking, you salt the chicken,
instructions below. We 'salt aggressively'. Most of the time we use
Morton's Kosher Salt. Using different sorts of salt can make a
difference. Kosher salt, besides not having any iodine, comes
as crystals. The volume of these crystals changes depending on the
producer, so, for example, a tsp of Morton's Kosher Salt has a
different amount of salt in a tsp of Diamond Crystal. And basically a
teaspoon of ordinary table salt is going to have more salt than kosher
salt. It makes a difference.
A lot of recipes tell you to bring
the chicken to room temperature before cooking. Bon
says taking it out 30 to 45 minutes before cooking will 'do the trick'.
Not sure what they mean, but we know that the chicken in our fridge is
usually around 35 degrees. It would take a lot longer than 45 minutes
to come to 'room temperature' (whatever that means). And then we do
start to worry about food safety when leaving out a chicken for too
long. There still is that food
safety danger zone
to think about. Generally they say don't leave food out of
refrigeration for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is 90
degrees or more). Does cooking solve the problem? Haven't
an authoritative answer (help us out if you know). Thomas
chef/owner of renowned wine country restaurant, The French Laundry says
in Ad Hoc at Home
to leave the chicken out for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Here's our feeling. We
think it makes a difference. The chicken that you see in the pictures
with this article was really big (5 1/2 pounds) and was taken out 45
minutes before cooking. We keep experimenting with that one. The latest
one (last night as we write this) was probably about 5 pounds. We took
it out 70 minutes before it went into the oven. Also spread the legs
apart with a knife on the theory more air would get in the cavity.
As it turns out this chicken was perfectly cooked.
course the kitchen was hot, did it warm up faster? Experiment!
big a chicken? A lot of recipes tell you to look for small
chickens. They don't seem to exist outside of farmer's market at very
high prices. Around here, some of the Foster Farm chicken sales are
usually on the larger side, sometimes up to 5 1/4 pounds. We like the
larger birds because we get a lot of leftovers and we have several
great recipes for them. But that's for another day.
OUR 'PERFECT' ROAST
- 1 whole chicken (see above), preferably with the giblets
- rosemary, preferable fresh (we have it in the garden),
- about 1 tsp whole pepper corns
- Baking Powder
- Poultry seasoning (optional, sometimes we do it, sometimes
on what you are after)
- salt, approx 3/4 tsp per pound of chicken, we like Morton's
- 1 large onion sliced, about 1/4" thick pieces
- 2 medium to larger carrots, peeled, julienned into
- 1 stalk celery sliced and cut into pieces about the size of
- a little oil or cooking oil spray
- Gravy & Mashed Potatoes (see recipes below)
- Snow or Snap Peas sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper
day before you want to make your bird, take the bird and pat it all
over with paper towels until it is as dry as you can make it. What we
do it put some paper towels in our large 14" non stick frying pan and
put the chicken in there (it is the right size and easy to clean). The
extra paper towels help to absorb more water as you
drying it off.
In a spice grinder, coffee grinder reserved only
for spices or a mortar and pestle, grind up the rosemary and pepper.
The amount of rosemary is really to taste, we probably use about 2 TB
for our 5 lb bird, but that might be too much for your tastes. Also
remember that if you only have dried spices, use 1/3 as much. Add salt
(and poultry seasoning if using) to the rosemary mixture and
place in a small open container that you can reach into (the
is to have it all there ready to use since your hand will be touching
the raw chicken).
Take a wooden spoon and carefully ease it under the skin of the breast.
The non spoon side is good to start with since it can also help you
break the 'seam' holding the skin down across the top middle. Once you
have done that, use the spoon side to carefully put the skin up all
over the breast. Watch out, it can tear. That isn't going to destroy
your chicken, but try to avoid it. Reach down with your fingers to the
legs and gently lift the skin away from them as well as you
take enough baking powder to rub all over the outside of the chicken
(top, bottom, sides, wings, legs, etc.). You don't need a lot. Next,
using the rosemary, salt and pepper mixture, carefully rub some of
it under the skin of the breast and as far down onto the legs
around them as well as you can. Then rub the spice mixture all over the
outside of the chicken. Do you have enough? Always
more than you need, but it is also a question of how much you like the
herb(s). Sometimes we are in the mood for lots of rosemary, sometimes
as much. Or just use salt and pepper. Or try thyme!
herb flavors will also change how you pair the dish with wine. Place
the bird in a container and put in the fridge. Check out the picture.
Notice that there is a lot of space around the chicken. You don't want
to cover it and try and keep as much of the bird away from the sides of
the container. This will help dry out the chicken which makes
crispier skin. If you have giblets, just toss them in the container.
next day take the chicken out of the fridge early (if you are doing
that, see the introductory notes above).This bird came out an hour
before cooking time. If you have it use a cast iron
frying pan that is a little larger than the bird. Spray the pan with
cooking oil or just use a little oil and spread it around. Line the
bottom with the onion slices. Toss the carrots and celery on top of the
onions. Put the bird on top of that. Truss the chicken so that the legs
are tied together. (There are plenty of websites that talk about
trussing chickens and the fact is we just often ignore them and just
tie the legs together. We missed taking a picture, but you can see the
string in the finished chicken in one of the pictures below.)
the way, we often cut up the onions, carrots and celery earlier in the
day and stash them in the fridge. That way when the time to cook comes
along, all you are going to do is stick the bird in the pan (trussing
it) on top of the pre cut veggies. Takes no time.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. It is good to have your oven
calibrated (and/or use the SMOKE we talked about).
If you've got one, put
your probe thermometer in the deepest part of the the breast not
touching the bone. If you don't have a probe thermometer, get one! You
won't regret it. Take some aluminum foil the size of the breast (we
usually fold it over so it is a double thickness), lightly butter it
and stick it over the breast (the butter is the glue). Put the chicken
in the cast iron pan in the oven. If there are giblets, by all means
put them in the pan as well. Not required, but at this point we also
set a kitchen
timer for 50 minutes. So far we've never had a chicken cook in less
time, but you never know, so use your judgment on the amount
time. On average our 4 1/2 lb chickens have cooked in a
heated oven in about 50 minutes, the 5 1/2 pounder took about an hour.
20 minutes take the aluminum foil off of the breast. We do that with
tongs as fast as we can since opening the oven really does release a
lot of heat.
This is where you really do want both the MK4 and
the probe alarm. At about the 50 minute point you could
take out the chicken (carefully, the frying pan handle is hot and
sometimes we forget and grab it. Don't!). Tilt it and see if the
'juices run clear'. If they are still red, put the chicken back. Wait a
few minutes and repeat until they do run clear. Better, using your
probe alarm wait till it hits 140 degrees and take out the chicken (but
do read the stuff about food safety above).
Then, using your hand held instant read thermometer (the MK4 is what we
use), test several places around the deepest part of the
Make sure you don't have any cold spots. They should all be at least
140. If they aren't put it back in for a few minutes and repeat till it
is done. Take the pan out of the oven.
didn't mention that while the chicken is cooking we aren't in the
kitchen. In years gone by we did have a variety of probe alarms, but
often we wouldn't hear them go off. Overcooked chicken! Sure
could hang around the kitchen... Our current alarm lets us monitor the
temperature of the bird and the oven itself (which we jump up to adjust
from time to time). When the bird hits the right temp, we definitely
Take the chicken out of
the frying pan and place it elsewhere. We like to use our
non stick frying pan we mentioned above.
Using a spatula take the
vegetables out of the cast iron frying pan and put them on a plate. If
chicken fat in the pan you can carefully try to pour it out (remember
that pan and handle is HOT), or if you don't care, just leave
there. It is possible the onions may almost be burnt. We like them
really caramelized so it doesn't bother us. If you find that happening,
next time cut the onions and, if needed, the other vegetables thicker.
Place your frying pan on the stove (if that wasn't where it landed in
the first place) and turn on the heat relatively high.. Pour in some
water and using a spatula scrape up all the brown bits. That stuff is
called 'fond' and is due to the Maillard Reaction (read all about
You are going to use the fond and that liquid in your gravy. There's
tons of flavor there! If you've already started your gravy (see
recipe below), pour it all into the gravy pot, otherwise, pour it into
another container. Return the vegetables to the frying pan. If the
vegetables are not cooked through (we like them to have started getting
brown at least), add a little oil to the pan and cook them to your
liking. By this time some juices will probably have come out
your chicken and when you pick the chicken up more will pour out of the
cavity as well. We collect all
those juices and put them into the gravy pot. We put the chicken back
on top of the vegetables in the frying pan.
Let the chicken rest
uncut and uncovered for 20 minutes. If you are scientifically inclined
and are using a probe thermometer and it hasn't gotten pulled out, you
can watch the temperature as it continues to rise. That is nice to
watch as it tells you a lot about the time and temperature safety
situation. The chicken
will not get
Take a look at our picture below
taken immediately after the chicken was cut down the middle with a
cleaver. You can see the steam rising off of it. This was at least 20
During the 20 minute wait here's what we do:
Finish the gravy. Saute sugar snaps or snow peas. Make mashed potatoes.
More on that below.
After the 20 minutes, if there are just two
of you and you want to impress yourselves, chop the chicken
down the middle, then place each half onto a hot plate
Pile on the
vegetables from the frying pan (reheated if necessary), the peas and
the mashed potatoes. Douse with gravy..
This is one
of the most important hints you can use for almost all hot
preparations. There's nothing worse than pasta on a cold
It sucks the heat right out of it. Same for almost
say, the mashed potatoes here. Our plates are pottery which
got from Pine
in Texas (never were there but they worked with us over the 'net to
produce exactly what we wanted.). We had looked forever for the wood
fired rustic glaze that we like. They will stand up to the
the oven (so long as you don't put them in cold-they might crack from
the quick heat differential!). We'll heat them to
several hundred degrees, give or take, for 15 minutes, give or take,
and put the food on top. Just remember you have to be really careful
after that as they are hot! (And only use plates approved for high eat
in the oven; don't blame us if you put plastic plates in there.) This
will make an enormous difference in
the enjoyment of your food. The food you
will stay hotter, longer, and taste better.
it! Was that so hard? Way too many words but when
you do it
you find out it really isn't all that much work at all. We think we
heard celebrity chef Ina Garten say if there are any two things you
must master it is a cup of coffee and a roast chicken. Can't vouch for
the coffee, but a great roast chicken is just that.
Look, cooking is always somewhat of an art and things don't always
go as planned. Relax. Try it again. We were amazed that the chicken
shown in these pictures actually was a time when absolutely everything
worked perfectly. Some time earlier we cut up the vegetables. At 6pm we
turned on the oven to pre-heat and took the chicken out of the fridge
to warm up. At 7pm we put the vegetables in the frying pan, quickly
trussed the chicken and put it on top of the vegetables.
probe thermometer in the right place and stuck it in the oven. We
started making the gravy and left it in the pot. 20 minutes
the chicken went in the oven we quickly took the foil off the breast.
For the next 35 minutes we relaxed elsewhere. Then the probe
thermometer announced 140 degrees. Pulled the chicken out. Quickly
peeled and cut up the potatoes and put them in the pressure cooker
which had to get up to steam. During the next few minutes prepared the
peas, finished the chicken vegetables and finished the gravy. About 3
minutes before the nominal end of the 20 minute resting period the
mashed potatoes had been 'at steam' for 8 minutes. Took them
and stuck them in the stand mixer with the rest of the flavorings and
mashed 'em up. cut the chicken down the middle and put them on the
places you see above. Exactly 20 minutes after the chicken
out (leaving a few seconds to take that picture) we were eating. The
chicken was perfectly cooked. We marveled that it could be so good when
we were actually going to show it off. In the end there was lots of
chicken leftover. What we did with that is another recipe.
Tried it? Let us know how it worked out! Something not clear? Ask.
oast chicken goes
wonderfully with several
types of wine. Pinot
Noir and sparkling wines can be great choices. Where you have to be
in the pairing is in the use of the herbs. Rosemary is
you use too much it may not pair as well. Since wines change year by
year you'll want to experiment. If you eat as much roast chicken as we
do, we suggest trying the rosemary first, perhaps with an older pinot.
If you don't think it a good match, try doing a chicken with just salt
and pepper and the same. You might not have
Champagne (or similar sparkling wine) would be the right choice, but it
really is good. We are partial to the yeastier versions with our roast
reason this page exists is because we have been purchasing Nalle Wine
for a very long wine. Used to say Doug Nalle's winery in Sonoma,
California, was the smallest we'd ever seen because it was just him.
(The next smallest winery we spend time with is a family in Paso
Robles.) Now his son Andrew has taken over as winemaker (Doug's still
around). Andrew and his wife April have two very small children and
when we were at the winery last we were talking cooking. We've always
shared our recipes and have sent some to Andrew in the past. April was
interested and we sent her some of our favorites. She loved the style
of the writing and thought we should do a food blog. We didn't see
much use in just another blog, but when she asked if we could give her
some recipes to send to the people on her winery mailing list, we gave
in and said we'd do it if we could make it more informational and maybe
put it up on the web just so we could show a lot of pictures that go
along we the cooking. This is the result.
There is a lot of good
wine in the world, but we honestly believe that Nalle
is some of the
best. We've put down lots of our own money on it.
Noir and sparkling wine can be a good match, though you still have to
look out for the herb pairing. Rosemary is touchy. Try thyme or salt
and pepper. They also produce a very nice sparkling wine which should
be tried. In the past they have also produced a Chardonnay which
would be a wonderful choice. Pull out a bottle if you've got one. Some
of the time what we like with roast chicken is a rather yeasty
think that you can have a roast chicken dinner without a good chicken
gravy. So of course, you
obviously need some soy sauce!
just about forever we have been taught that there are 4
senses of taste: sweetness, sourness,
bitterness, and saltiness. Then, in 1908,
it was proposed that umami
is a fifth sense. It has been described as brothy or meaty. Adding
something that contributes umami alters what we perceive and
really make a big impact. Some of the things that can add umami are
anchovies, tomatoes, mushrooms and soy sauce. (TIP:
When we buy
shiitake mushrooms, instead of throwing away the stems, we set them out
to dry, then grind them up and keep them in a jar. When we make pizza
sauce we add a little of the powder, along with a Parmesan Cheese rind
(never throw them out--more umami and flavor!) and you've got two great
umami additions. TIP2.
Get a bottle of nam pla. Put a few drops of it
in just about everything to heighten flavors. What's nam pla? Also
known as fish sauce it is essentially fermented anchovies and salt.
Look for one that is just anchovies, salt and water. Found
once that didn't list water. It cost 5 times as much.)
Soy Sauce adds umami, flavor and color to
your gravy. It is hard to say how much to use because we don't know how
much pan juice you've ended up with. Judge by taste and color.
You don't want it to taste like soy sauce, but before that is
reached it will make the gravy taste really much better! In
we've used Black Soy Sauce (available at Chinese markets at least)
which can enhance the color more quickly because it is a a lot darker.
It might also add a touch of sweetness depending on the Soy
Sauce, so be careful. Definitely worth trying!
Like we said, we don't know how much pan juice you've got, so the
amount of ingredients is completely to taste.
- Chicken stock or water
- fat, optional
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- poultry seasoning, to taste (optional)
- garlic powder, to taste (optional)
- soy sauce
- nam pla
- few drops white wine vinegar
- chopped gizzards, optional
- juices from the chicken (see main recipe)
The classic way to start a gravy is to make a roux
a combination of fat and flour, in a saucepan.. This helps to prevent a
lumpy gravy. You can use oil, butter, or the chicken fat from the
frying pan. If you are trying to reduce (slightly) the
you can try just mixing flour with the liquid and see if you get it to
dissolve. We've had luck with using 00 flour that we have around for
making pizzas. It is more finely milled. If you are going this route
and lumps are still a problem, try using a stick blender, a useful tool
to have around anyhow.
We usually have homemade chicken stock
that has been reduced to be thick and stored as cubes in the freezer.
If you don't have that, we've also used the Trader Joe's Savory Broth
Chicken Flavor (they come in a small box as a gooey liquid in packets).
Mix with flour like a roux and go from there. Typically we do that when
the chicken goes into the oven. We add enough liquid to get the gravy
started. At this point we add the soy sauce, a few drops of white
wine vinegar, some poultry seasoning, to taste, pepper, to taste, dash
of garlic powder. Usually leave it kind of thick since we
thick gravy. When the chicken is done, add the juices (see main recipe)
to the saucepan. Chop up some of the gizzards and add. If you like
liver use a lot of it. If you don't like liver, try using just a little
bit. It adds flavor but you don't know it is there.
seasonings (particularly the salt). If you want more gravy
and you think the flavor
there to support it, try mixing some flour and water into a slurry and
add it to the saucepan along with more water.
What's the vinegar for? adding a little acid to a dish can brighten the
flavors. Try it if something taste lilke 'it needs something'. Try it
in this gravy. Taste it before and after the vinegar. Be
careful. You don't want so much that you really start to taste the
vinegar. Don't over do it. Lemon juice is another source of acid that
you should try out in your cooking.
As you can see this isn't a precise thing. And don't leave out the soy
f you have
leftovers and are planning on pulling the meat off the bone,
throw away the bones!
(We also know people who keep the
bones as well and also reuse them. Given they're going to be
cooked a long time we suspect there aren't any germs, but we aren't
encouraging the practice.) Take all the scraps with whatever little
left over meat, including left over gizzards, neck and the like and put
them in a pot. Toss in an onion, a carrot and some celery and
whatever you like (we sometimes might include some parsley if it is in
the garden). We might also add a bay leaf and perhaps 1 TB of tomato
paste (more umami). Add a lot of water. Bring to a boil, then
set to simmer. Cook a long time. (OK, maybe 3 hours or so, till it is
Strain the liquid and discard the bones (though often there is some
meat on them you can snack on). Keep boiling it down until it is a
thick syrup (watch out,
don't burn it). We put that in Pyrex glass tray (use whatever
works for you) and freeze it. Take it out, thaw slightly so
you can cut the gel into cubes, then store the cubes in a bag.
This makes great extra stock for your next roast chicken
gravy. As you
see, it is also free of added sodium. There is going to be some from
the dry brining, but odds are if you want the stock to taste like
anything it is eventually going to need some salt.
tip: Get a pressure cooker.
There are a lot of wonderful
uses for them
(check out the mashed potato recipe, and we've got our 'killer' split
pea soup recipe...). Follow the steps above but put
the ingredients in the pressure cooker and cook at high heat for an
hour. Release pressure then follow on making the syrup. By
way, we find it works better to transfer the liquid to a non-stick pot
for the final reduction. Makes it easier to get it out. An
hour is a long time. We do it, but check the manufacturer's suggested
times. Really good pressure cookers will lose less water during the
We usually freeze the bones until we have two chicken's worth. We do a
roast chicken every 2 to 3 weeks. There's probably 8 to 12 cups of
liquid that gets cooked down. If you want to get rid of all
the fat, do what we do. Put liquid in the freezer. When frozen you can
scrape the fat off, then complete the process of boiling down to a
syrup. The pictures below show the process.
roast chicken really calls out for mashed potatoes smothered in good
gravy. For years we'd try to figure out when to start cooking the
potatoes (by the boiling method). We'd want them done exactly
5 minutes before we want to eat the chicken. Since you can't
really know how long any individual chicken might take, this became a
losing game of guesswork. Then inspiration hit. Why not use a pressure
cooker? Since the chicken needs to rest for 20 minutes anyhow, this is
perfect. In our pressure cooker, it takes 8 minutes. Plenty
of time to get them done and out and mashed up.
Once again ingredient amounts are up to you. Here's what we
use for 2 people (there's always leftovers).
- About 1 lb russet potatoes, peel and sliced about 1" thick
- Fresh ground horseradish
- Dijon Mustard
- Half and Half or Milk or Cream
- Salt & Pepper
Put the sliced potatoes in the steaming rack of the pressure cooker.
Bring to high heat and cook 8 minutes. You can use the quick release to
get at them quicker. Of course if you aren't using a pressure cooker,
cook them however you like. Boiling is fine. You
could even try a microwave. Mash them. Of course you can use a potato
masher right in the cooking vessel. We put all the ingredients in our
stand mixer with a whip attachment.
You want decadent mashed potatoes? Use a lot of cream and butter. We
just use a small amount, maybe 1/2 TB butter, 1 TB half and half. The
horseradish and the mustard give added flavor with a lot less calories.
We use about 1 TB mustard and a few TB horseradish.
But it is all to
Mash, whip or whatever (hmmm...). Salt and pepper to taste. Serve on
those HOT PLATES we talked about above.
Here's a .pdf summary
of the chicken recipe you can print.