Saturday, 19 November 2011

Perfect Roast Chicken with Cream Gravy

So, it's a weekend, and i love a roast dinner on Sundays more than anything - doesn't matter what, but it always gives me a warm, homely feeling i think everyone is aware of. Problem is...not everyone knows how to roast a chicken properly, and although it's not hard to do, it can be screwed up. Have no fear though, for i shall attempt to walk you through the process of making the perfect roast chicken for a sunday lunch, but be warned, the gravy that goes along with this is hardly the definition of healthy!

You will need the following ingredients:

1 Large Chicken - weight between 1.25 and 1.5kg (2.75 to 3.3lb)
4 Rashers of Rindless Back Bacon
1 Chicken Stock Cube, or one teaspoon of powdered Chicken Stock
1 Dessertspoon of Plain White Flour

Utensils needed:

Roasting Tin
Carving Board
Carving Fork
Carving Knife
Balloon Whisk
Gravy Boat if you're so inclined.

First, it's imperative that you pre-heat the oven Gas Mark 5 (375° Fahrenheit / 190° Celsius), before you do anything - the oven must be hot before you put the prepared chicken into the oven!

Once pre-heated, it's simple enough to prepare. Now i'm going to be a little bit obvious here, for the benefit of anyone reading that has not done this before. After unwrapping the chicken from it's packaging, check the main cavity to ensure there are NO giblets in there. Most pre-packed ones in France sell them separately, but your local supermarkets or butchers may differ. After you've verified that it's clear, place the chicken in a roasting tin, leaving any string tying it together in place.

Now for the interesting bit. You can quite happily place the chicken in the oven at this point, no-one's going to berate you for doing so - if you like, go right ahead. However, i layer bacon over the top of the chicken at this point. Why? Well, have you ever had a roast chicken, and the meat is a bit on the dry side? Thought so. It comes from there being not enough fat on the breast. 

Bacon cures this problem AND adds that little extra to the flavour of the bird as a whole. See, by using back bacon, with the fat on, as the bacon itself cooks, layered on top of the chicken, the fat is slowly and consistently released into the meat, and the meaty part of the bacon acts like a lid - keeping the moisture IN the meat. 

So, layer the bacon over the chicken as shown below, keeping the line of fat in the same place.

Try and cover the legs too if you can - on this chicken, i used only 4 rashers, but larger ones can use more, but as with all my recipes, you can use as little or as much as you like.

Put it in the oven, using the rule of thumb as 1 hour for every kilo (2.2lb) of weight. As this one was 1.25kg, it was put in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Now it's in the oven, take your stock cube, and crush it with a pestle and mortar. This isn't needed if you're using ready powdered stock. Mix in with the heaped spoonful of plain white flour and leave to one side.

After the time is up, check the chicken is cooked in the middle by taking the roasting tin out of the oven, and using a carving fork, tip the chicken upright, so that any juices in the cavity run out into the tin. If the juices are clear then the chicken is sufficiently cooked. If the juices are still red with blood, it's NOT cooked through enough, and should be put back in the oven for at least another 15 minutes, before checking again.

If everything checks out however, transfer the chicken from the pan to your carving board, leaving the juices in the tin, like so:

Now, this is where you start having fun! While the chicken is resting on the board, transfer the tin, with the juices still in it, onto the stove. Turn the heat onto low, and in a few seconds the juices should be bubbling away. Take the flour/stock mix, and add to the pan, stirring vigorously with the balloon whisk until you have a thick paste.

Start adding milk slowly whilst whisking, little at a time, as if it were a roux. The trick is to never let the gravy settle, keep it moving to remove any lumps of flour. Keep thinning it out until you're just past the consistency you're after, as once this cools, it will thicken. The end result should look something like this.

At this point, and if you have one, you can decant this into the gravy boat, ready to serve. The end result, along with some of the potato's from the forthcoming recipe, should make an excellent dinner!

See? Dead easy, and just in time for sunday afternoon, too :D

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