A post about roasting chicken, making some gravy and later some stock. To be honest this is more of a ramble about me and chicken than a proper recipe or kitchen tips. Might have to revisit this in a new post.
A couple of years ago I bought a tray of chicken thighs and wings and – well to cut a long and unpleasant story short I decided I was not going to eat chicken again. But then I did. Because I was with some group, probably a work thing, can’t remember exactly, but food was provided, there was chicken… I don’t do the whole going hungry thing – I probably should it might do me some good, but no, it’s not for me. So… I decided that I would just not cook chicken again. But then I read all these articles on healing your gut and bone broths and I thought that’s just stock and I’ve made chicken stock with the leftover carcass of roasted chicken so seeing as how I’m already eating chicken again and seeing how apparently chicken stock is so very very good for you…
So I bought a chicken in the organic supermarket and it’s quite expensive there – €16.50 for a chicken that was about 1.7 kg – I can’t remember exactly but I know it was between 3 – 4 pounds – ’cause I checked when I was figuring how long to cook it for, etc. Was it worth it? Well €16.50 seems like a lot to pay for a chicken when you can buy them in most supermarkets for between €5 – €10 but when you consider the amount of plates you serve from one chicken and if you workout how much you would pay for beef of lamb to get the same number of plates (provides you don’t think about things like burgers of those bags of frozen lamb chops you can buy) then it is actually cheap by comparison. I shouldn’t have mentioned the burgers or chops. Also, the chicken tasted wonderful.
I stuffed the cavity with 1 lemon (quartered) and fresh bunches of parsley and thyme, covered it with the foil wrapper from a stick of butter, put it in at 180 C for 40 minutes. Then I took it out added onions, parsnips, carrots and celery into the roasting tin, took off the foil wrapper, let about 25g of butter melt into the hot bird (moving the butter around and making sure it was all covered in butter), then returned it to the oven, and cooked for a further 30 minutes or so at 200 C. When it was done I removed the chicken to a serving dish to let it rest for 15 minutes (they say this helps the meat retain its juices and it seems to be true), put the vegetables into the serving dish also and reduced the juices down with a little white wine, mustard and some of the roasted onion to make a light gravy.
So a couple of days ago I was in the regular supermarket and I saw a free range chicken for €5.99. Now this isn’t a direct comparison because I roasted this chicken completely differently. It did taste good but I have to admit that the one from the organic supermarket was better. It’s like the difference between buying a normal decent quality steak and buying really good quality steaks from a butchers. No matter how you prepare it you can taste the difference. That said I was still very pleased with the €5.99 chicken also. And the way I roasted it was a bit of a new experience for me so I thought I’d share it with you, the result was very tasty.
I was out of thyme and I had a lot of mint. I had a packet that I bought and also I had a very sad looking mint plant that I’d bought. I always do this and I hate it; I buy those potted herb plants you can buy in any supermarket and then I forget about them and then by the time I remember them they are dying (and I feel so guilty – the phrase “the place where bad plants go to die” always runs around in my head when I see them).
You throw out the lemon and herbs that you stuff the chicken’s cavity with afterwards and there is a lot of mint taste still left in the dying plant – especially in the stems, so it’s perfect for stuffing really.
I first took the dead bits off the plant and discarded them. I had decided by that stage that I wanted to try making a mint-lemon-garlic roasted chicken so I used the leaves from the mint in the packet along with some parsley leaves to make a garlic-lemon-herb butter and I added the stalks to the “it’s going in the cavity” plate. I made the lemon-herb butter with about 75g of softened salted butter, the zest of 1 lemon, 1 grated garlic clove and about 2 tablespoons of fresh mint leaves and 1 tablespoon of parsley leaves – just all added to a bowl and mashed up together. I then rubbed this into and under the chicken skin, all over. The skin is loosest around the cavity. I hadn’t tried this before and I have to say it feels a bit weird doing it but it does make for very tender juicy meat.
I put it on for 40 minutes at 180 C, then surrounded it with some vegetables, turned up the heat to 200 C and roasted it for a further 40 minutes. I did use any covering this time because – it was smothered in butter.
It tasted great. I really like the mint-lemon-garlic combo but the next time I would just use one lemon in the cavity and I would quarter it rather than half it. The “gravy” was way too lemony.