1 large roasting chicken
2 slices bacon (in England you must buy “smoked streaky rashers”)
1/2 teaspoon each of: dried basil, oregano, thyme, garlic salt, paprika (or any seasoned salt you like)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 large onion, quartered
6 cloves garlic, whole
2 tbsps flour
good dollop of cream (if you insist)
Spray a large roasting pan with nonstick spray and place chicken breast-side up. Pour chicken stock and wine over the chicken, then sprinkle on herbs and put the butter in two pats at the top of the breast. Throw the onion chunks and garlic cloves in around the chicken, then drape the bacon slices over the legs. Roast at 400 degrees for a minimum of two hours, turning the heat down toward the end if the chicken gets too brown.
About forty minutes before you want to eat, put peeled and quartered potatoes (my allegiance is with Lady Balfour potatoes these days) in a pan and cover with water, then bring to the boil. Then, ten minutes before you want to eat, take the roasting pan out and place a gravy separator in the sink. This is one of the very few specialist kitchen items I believe in, normally adhering to Laurie Colwin’s disdain for kitchen objects that serve only one purpose. Lift the chicken out onto a large plate, and then very carefully pour the liquid into the gravy separator, leaving the onions and garlic in the pan if possible. Put the chicken back in the pan and return to the over, taking care to wipe any liquid from the bottom of the pan first. Now, you will notice that the gravy has separated into a good stock base, and a layer of fat on the top. Very slowly, pour the gravy out the spout into a skillet. Amazingly, I have no idea how this works, the stuff at the top comes out last! How do they do that? I really should have taken high-school physics as my father often laments. Anyway, watch and stop pouring when you run out of good stock and the fat begins to drain out. Throw away the fat.
Now put the skillet over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Bring to a low boil and whisk until the flour is completely absorbed. Let it cook a bit, and if you find you want your gravy thicker, simply add more flour. Add the cream if desired (of course in my house it is always desired).
Now you can let it simmer, and turn your attention to the rest of the meal. Drain and mash your potatoes with a nice hot mixture of butter and milk. Take the chicken out of the oven and let it sit a bit, while you saute your broccoli or peppers, or peel your beetroot, or make your salad.
A gravy boat is a nice thing to have, as it has a little spout. But you can use a coffee cup with a big soup spoon, as well. I will never forget that as a young engaged person, I registered for some really expensive china. I don’t even remember the pattern. Anyway, the ONLY piece I got was the gravy boat! I think it cost $450! Needless to say I exchanged it for, basically, everything else I needed to start a home, and got a cheap sweet little white gravy boat that I still use, now 16 years later.
Now carve the chicken, which unless you are an expert, simply involves cutting the breasts off and slicing them, and removing the legs if anyone likes dark meat. As for me, I eat what I call the “swings,” because when I lived in Moscow and was invited to the home of a Russian diplomat for dinner (this was in 1992 when no nice people in Moscow had any money, and consequently very little food), the host’s wife said to me very elegantly, “We are having chicken tonight. I hope you can eat the swings.” I always intended to write a memoir of our time in Moscow and call it “Golden Domes and Chicken Swings.”
But I digress. Now you have produced the perfect comfort meal, all the food groups accounted for, and… you can throw the chicken carcass in a stockpot and make soup. Mmmm.Print This Post
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