Sunday Roast

21 February 2011 § 7 Comments

The number of vendors at the Montclair Farmers’ Market on Saturday had mushroomed to three – a sign that spring had to be on its way, although it did not feel like it with plastic bags dancing off in the strong gusts.

Braving the whirling chilly winds were Vacchiano Farms selling their wide range of meat, home-baked pies and sauces, Shore Catch – with a small but good selection of fresh fish and Tree-Licious with their usual wide choice of fresh apples and baked goods. We bought free-range chicken, bacon, Cameo apples, onions and cider doughnuts.

Anthony Vacchiano and his daughter braving the elements

This winter I’ve started roasting a chicken on Sunday evenings. It is the one day of the week when we are all guaranteed to be in the same place at the same time, so we always eat with The Ladies™, in an attempt to civilize our little savages. They do look positively Neanderthal each gnawing on a chicken leg (“chicken bones” as they call them), so we still have a way to go with the civilization. Luckily I predict many more Sunday roast dinners.

Even though it takes a bit of cooking time, it is good to have the oven on for a few hours filling the house with that delicious smell of roast chicken and vegetables. If I buy a big enough bird then sometimes we have enough for sandwiches on Monday, and I usually get a soup out of the carcass the next day, with the simple addition of some onion, garlic and a handful of vegetables and herbs.

Roast Chicken with Winter Vegetables recipe

1 chicken

About 2 oz of butter

2 cloves of garlic

3-4 carrots

3-4 parsnips

1 big turnip (or a few small ones)

4 large potatoes – peeled and chopped into thirds

A few sprigs of thyme

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Wash the chicken and dry with paper towels, take out any of the innards and put them aside for the gravy. Season the chicken and rub the butter over the chicken. Put the whole garlic cloves and some of the onion inside the chicken.

In a large roasting pan, roast for about 20 minutes at 425°F – you won’t notice it yet but this is what gets the skin nice and crispy and golden brown later. In stages, you’re going to add the vegetables to the roasting pan, so after that initial 20 minutes at 425°F, reduce the heat of the oven to 375°F and add the chopped potatoes. Baste the chicken with the melted butter and the juice from the bottom of the pan. After another 30 minutes add the rest of the vegetables, stir them so they get coated in the buttery juice, season and cook for another hour (the chicken, depending on size should take about another hour from when you add the vegetables – you should allow about 20 minutes for every lb of weight).

During this hour or so cooking, baste the chicken and turn the vegetables and potatoes every 20 minutes or so. Check for doneness by puncturing at the top of the leg with a knife and if the juices run clear the chicken is done. Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

Chicken Gravy recipe

½ onion chopped

1 clove garlic crushed

1 carrot finely chopped

1 stick celery chopped

2 cups chicken stock

Chicken “bits” (neck, liver – whatever has been shoved inside)

While the chicken is cooking, fry the innards with the onion,  garlic, carrots and celery until nicely golden brown. Deglaze with some wine (whatever is on hand) then add the chicken stock, bring to the boil. Once the gravy is boiling, turn down the heat, simmer and reduce the liquid. Let it simmer for a long time, as long as you are cooking the chicken if you like. If you are serving boiled or steamed vegetables with your meal, reserve the cooking liquid and add to your gravy. When the chicken and vegetables are done, take everything out of the roasting pan then put the pan on the stove top under a medium heat, add a tablespoon of flour and make a roux with the crispy juicy bits, then add the sauce that has been simmering, whisk and when it has thickened slightly sieve into a sauce pan. Then heat again and skim off any fat that rises to the surface.

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