Saturday, October 18, 2008

59. Roast Chicken with Pan Gravy (p. 354)

Our friends Travis and Jodi came over for dinner a couple of weeks ago. They are newlyweds, and they were coming over to show us their wedding pictures and tell us all about their honeymoon adventures in Mexico. I knew that this occasion called for something special. I decided on this recipe* for a classic roasted chicken with a simple pan gravy.

I took The Book's advice and got an organic, free-range chicken from Whole Foods, rather than the oven-stuffer-roaster from the mega-mart that I'd usually get. I don't know if it was the the chicken's all-natural, happily free-ranging life, or if it was the cooking method, but this was a good roast chicken.

And easy too! I had to read and re-read the recipe a few times because I thought I was missing something. There's nothing in the recipe about trussing or tying or tucking or anything like that. Just rub the chicken all over, inside and out, with salt and pepper and plop it in a roasting pan. The Book says to put the bird on a rack, but I don't have one for my small roasting pan. But the lack of a rack didn't do any harm to the finished bird. Pour some melted butter over it and roast for a little over an hour until it reaches the appropriate internal temperature. The only other thing that you have to do is turn and baste the bird every 20 minutes or so.

Once the chicken is done, you move it to a platter to rest while you make the pan gravy. Start by putting the pan juices into a small saucepan. Then put the roasting pan on the stovetop and deglaze it with a little chicken stock and water. I love deglazing! It's really satisfying to work all of the little brown bits off of the bottom of the roasting pan, and it makes cleanup a lot easier in the end. The deglazing liquid is poured into the saucepan, brought to a boil and whisked together with some cornstarch (I needed to add more than The Book calls for to get it to thicken up at all). The gravy is finished off with a little bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper (in the flurry of pre-dinner activity, I missed this last step).

The result is a moist, delicious chicken with beautiful golden, crispy skin. Since the legs and wings weren't tied or tucked, I was afraid that they'd be dry and overcooked, but surprisingly, they weren't. The gravy, which was still thinner than I would have liked, was flavorful (although I agree with Teena that it was a bit salty.

The Book calls this "the most succulent and simplest roast chicken." While it is simple and succulent, I've got to admit that it's not the best roast chicken recipe I've made. That honor goes to Martha Stewart, for her "Potatoes that Taste Better than the Chicken" recipe. (Actually, the recipe is from Jean-Georges Vongerichten, but since he made it on Marth's show, she gets the credit for it.) What's so special about the Martha recipe is that the chicken cooks on top of the potatoes, and as the bird roasts, the potatoes soak up all of the pan juices. The result is a moist chicken with crispy skin, and potatoes that truly are better than the bird.

Date Cooked: October 4, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: B+

*The recipe isn't online.


The Mediocre Cook said...

I love chicken and I have found that brining a chicken produces wonderful results (using liberal amounts of salt before cooking is also a decent replacement). Now I have a craving for a roast chicken!

John and Katie Flanagan said...

I love your blog, and I think we have the same china pattern. Is that Lenox Solitaire platinum?

Adam said...

Thanks for the comment, John and Katie. The china is actually Lenox Eternal Gold. And would you believe that my wife and I have been married for nine years, and this was the first time that we've used it!

John and Katie Flanagan said...

I DO believe that! Ours is still in boxes... 3 years later :-) I guess it's our fault for moving to Europe and leaving it all in storage. It's supposed to be dishwasher safe, though, so I am excited about using it eventually!