Roast Chicken

A roasting chicken should be big enough to leave leftovers

Roast chicken is very easy and very good, and within the reach of the least experienced cook. If you are a bachelor, and don't have a set meal that you can prepare, this is a good one to work on. Best is a good roasting chicken, not a fryer, of at least 4 pounds weight. Intermediate-sized chickens will also do very well, and are cheaper than roasters. Allow a pound or a pound and a half per individual meal. You will always have leftovers if you are only one or two people, but good use can be made of them. Avoid small, scrawny frying chickens! Pull everything out of the chicken and wash it thorougly, inside and out. Pull or cut off anything that hangs out, like lumps of fat. Put the chicken on its back in a roasting pan, on the slotted tray if you have one, and bung it in an oven set for 350-375°F, a hot oven. A roasting chicken will require from 1.5 to 2.5 hours to roast, depending on the weight. Do not go by time, or by how the roast looks, but use a thermometer stuck in beside the leg, so that it is deep in the chicken. Don't stick the thermometer in the breast meat. Some thermometers are left in, others are stuck in when you want to check the temperature. Roast until the temperature is definitely 180°F. There must not be any watery, bloody juices when you carve it, and the meat will fall off the leg bones. This may be a little more than optimum, but do not settle for anything less, since it ensures safety. You don't know where the bird has been.

To make gravy, wrap the liver, heart and gizzard in aluminum foil and put beside the chicken in the oven to cook about an hour. Remove with the chicken. Pour the juices from the roasting pan into a measuring cup. Note that there is a layer of clear fat floating on juices. Pour some of the fat into the roasting pan, then stir in a tablespoon or so of flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Cook over a low fire until you have a foamy roux, or as close to it as you are going to get. Pour off most of the fat you did not use, but none of the drippings. Add the drippings to the roux, with one or two cups of water, and heat until it boils, stirring constantly. Add a half teaspoon of turmeric, which gives a nice color and a pleasant flavor. Add more if you like it. Add salt to taste, and simmer for about five minutes, stirring and scrubbing the bottom of the roaster with the wooden spoon. Now strain the gravy through a strainer into a saucepan, and add the giblets, chopping them finely first. Heat, and the gravy is ready. This gravy can be very good, and is not hard to make once you get the idea.

The chicken is now ready to eat. Make some mashed potatoes, a vegetable, and some gravy from an envelope or jar. Of course, you can make gravy from the drippings if you know how, but if you don't, don't sweat it. Cranberry sauce is very nice with chicken, and looks good on the plate. This is a really tasty meal, and is easy to make. It's easiest to slice the breast for this meal, or to take a drumstick if you like it. The legs actually are easier to dismantle later than to slice them when the chicken is hot, but anything you do will be all right.

One good way to use the rest of the chicken is in curry. A recipe is given in Curry.

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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 5 April 2001
Last revised 5 November 2002