Sundays were the best days for food in my house: roast beef, roast pork, roast chicken were all on the menu depending on my mum’s fancy. I loved the roasted meat, but the mashed potatoes and gravy were something to look forward to as well.
The potatoes are gone, but the roast, veg and gravy live on in culinary armoury. What roasts might you ask? During the year I’ll roast: beef, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, duck and goose. It used to be that rib-in-roast (aka prime rib) was my favourite by a long stretch. But over the last ten years, chicken has moved up the league table and now sits at the top.
Free Range, Organic?
If you can afford it, I’d go for at least free range. You can really taste the difference in the meat. A free ranger, even if grown quickly tastes better than a battery broiler. There’s just a hint of gameyness about them. I’ve had the odd slow-growing free range chicken, and they’re even more tasty and gamey. Too expensive though. I’m no tree-hugger, but I also think these animals should have a decent life before they go in my stomach.
I’m guessing there’s some kind of paleo-stuffing out there. Seek it out if you wish, but for me this is mistake. I suppose, technically, I do stuff my birds, but it’s all designed to enhance the gravy that I make. This involves my “patented” tipping. I’m literally tipping the bird here. My stuffing always includes a bulb of garlic and two bay leaves. I’ll sometimes include lime, herbs or even a piece of ginger. Mix and match to see what works for you.
- One free range chicken
- A bulb of garlic
- Two bay leaves
- An onion peeled
- A tablespoon of melted butter or avocado oil
- A bunch of rosemary (optional)
- A bunch of thyme (optional)
- A lemon pierced (optional)
- Garlic powder
- Crank the oven up to 200° C (390° F)
- Place garlic and bay leaves in the cavity; plug the cavity with a peeled onion
- Drizzle butter or oil over the chicken and spread round with your hand
- Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder all over the chicken
- Place chicken in the hot oven and turn down to 175° C after twenty minutes
- After about fifty minutes, baste the chicken, then carefully using a spoon and fork, tip the juices from the cavity into the roasting pan. I put the spoon in the cavity and use the fork at the other end. These juices will be bloody and will add amazing flavour. After this, baste every twenty-five minutes. After each time you baste, tip the chicken again. The juices will become progressively clearer and aromatic.
- Use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken is cooked. Depending on size this could be an hour and a half to two hours.
- When cooked, place the chicken on a cutting board and cover with aluminium foil; let it rest for at least twenty minutes. This will give you time to make the gravy.
- Pour all the juices from the roasting tin into a sauce pan and skim the fat off the top. Scrape any of the sticky bits out of the roasting pan. You can use wine or hot water to help scrape these bits out. I usually use the hot water from the broccoli or cauliflower I’m boiling.
- Boil the gravy at medium heat to break down the sticky bits. You can run the gravy through a sieve if you don’t like the floating bits. I usually leave them in.
- By this time, the roast will have released some more juices while resting. Carefully pour these into the gravy.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.