Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Free Range Bird is Always Best for Roasting

A simple winter roast to warm even the coldest of hearts.

I've been getting well into bird bastin’ and roastin’ this season. I’m pretty sure this is the coldest I've EVER been in my life and it’s been a great time to get back into the kitchen. I always remember thinking growing up how ‘meh’ I felt about roasts, the only thing I truly loved was the leg of the chicken, the soft tender meat! And maybe a spud. Now I’m experiencing a renaissance of passion for a good roast.

Rule # one: Always use a free range chicken at the very least. Caged birds never roast as nicely. Free range is generally more robust in size and flavor.
Rule # two: Keep the sides simple. Chuck your favorite winter vegetables onto a tray with some olive oil, salt and pepper herbs of choice and call it a day.

Rule # three: Get the butter involved. Butter brings a lot to the table. Place inside the chicken, between the skin and meat and even over. This creates a wonderful flavor all over and you can keep the juices for accompanying gravy.

Rule # four: Always make your own gravy!! 

1 Large Free Range Chicken
Baby Beets
Mixed Baby Potatoes
1 Lemon
1 stick of butter
Garlic (lots)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Let’s start with the bird. The skin, like the meat are both make or breaks so I like to start by separating the skin from the meat by stuffing with butter. This moistens the meat and makes it super juicy and tender. Don’t be too aggressive, just slide between gently. If you've been given the insides to the chicken, keep them inside the chicken, stuffed with garlic, a halved lemon, thyme, rosemary and butter. For the skin, coat in butter with salt & pepper and chopped thyme and rosemary. Don’t be afraid to use your hands! Place in oven and cook for one hour and thirty minutes at 400 degrees.

For the vegetables, a rough peel and wash will suffice. I placed them on a separate tray, but some like to roast together. Splash liberally with olive oil, herbs and cloves of garlic. Remember to salt and pepper.  Cook for forty five minutes, give or take to your liking. Be sure to rotate once or twice.

Keep an eye on your bird and baste half way with butter and some cider if you’re keen. After the chicken has roasted and the meat has been cut, you should be left with a surplus of juices. To this, add a little salt and pepper, a splash of cream and some flour to thicken into gravy.


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