Roast Chicken & Stuffing

Before I started this Blog I was stuck in a chicken-cooking comfort zone – so I have pretty much cooked every type of chicken dish known to man, but I have never attempted to roast one before. Part of the reason is that roasting chicken & turkey intimidates me because you have to “get your hands dirty” in taking out gross giblets, you have to get technical with “trussing” and you have to get it just right so that it’s not tough (which seems to be really easy to do) and not underdone, which we all know is just bad!

So today, I thought I would venture out of that comfort zone once again, and attempt to roast my first ever chicken. Actually, today was also the first time I have ever made chicken gravy, and stuffing too! Look at me go! It was actually far more simple than I had ever imagined, and turned out so delicious! Plus, there are SO many things you can do with the left over chicken for a weeknight meal. I think I lucked out by finding this great recipe from  Williams Sanoma. Here’s how to roast a chicken, for those of you like me, who have waited all these years, for no good reason, to try it:

for the herb stuffing

2 1/2 cups trimmed white bread cubes
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp finely chopped fresh sage (or 1tsp dry)
salt and pepper

1 roasting chicken (4 1/2-51/2 lbs)
5 fresh sage leaves (optional)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
salt and pepper

To make the stuffing, preheat the oven to 350degF. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet, put in the oven and bake, turning twice, for about 15 minutes. Or until golden. Set aside.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the chopped onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Remove form the heat and add the bread cubes, pasley, sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to mix. Set aside.

Raise the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C). Rinse the chicken under cold runing water, discarding the giblets, and pat dry. Remove and discard any lose fat.  Starting from the neck end, use your fingers to loosen the skin over the breast without piercing it.  Slide the sage leaves under the skin.  Brush the chicken with the melted butter and season inside and out with salt and pepper.  Stuff the chicken with the bread cubes, and truss if desired.  Place the chicken, breast side up, in an oiled flameproof roasting pan just large enough to hold it comfortably and add the onion.

Roast the chicken until the leg joints move easily and the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a knife, 1-1 1/4 hours.  An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh( but not touching bone) should read 170°F (77°C).
 Transfer the chicken to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, place the pan over medium-high heat and skim off the surface fat.
Gravy option 1:
Add 3/4 cup of chicken stock and deglaze the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes.  In a food processor or blender, purée the pan sauce and onion.  Season with salt and pepper.

Gravy option 2:
Use a store-brought chicken gravy mix, and add the drippings from your chicken

Carve the chicken and arrange on a warmed platter.  Top with the sauce.  Serve the stuffing alongside.
I should probably invest in some kind of platter now that i’m making fancier meals, but I hadn’t even thought about it until I served it up (so sorry for the ugly photo).

I am so glad I ventured out of my cooking comfort zone and tried this recipe today, because it turned out SO DELICIOUS!!! This is one of my new favourite sunday dinners. Plus, it wasn’t as ‘scary’ to make as I thought it’d be. The giblets were out with one quick, easy (and really unnerving) scoop. I forgot to truss it, but it didn’t really make a difference to the taste anyway, (just the presentation) which I can work on later. AND… the chicken was moist and had a delicious perfect crispy skin. The home made stuffing was a million times better than the store brought kind, and the gravy was so yummy. I will definitely make roast chicken a lot more often!

Plus, there are so many good uses for the left-overs! I made chicken stock for the first time ever! This wednesday I am making soup for the youth in my ward, so I thought i’d make home-made stock and see what a difference it makes.
Here is the recipe real quick:
1 chicken carcass (don’t you just love that word!?) :-/
1 large yellow onion, quartered
4 carrots, quartered
3 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
6 parsley sprigs
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
6 peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
3 qt water

Place the chicken in a large stock pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming the surface to remove any foam. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 31/2 to 4 hours. Skim occasionally to remove any foam.

Strain the stock through a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth (muslin). Discard the solids. Let cool, cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove any hardened fat from the surface of the stock. Refrigerate if you intend to use it within the next few days, otherwise pour into small covered containers and freeze. it will keep for up to 1 month. Makes about 2 qt.

Hope you’re all having a lovely, relaxing sunday!

Love, Sarah