Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken

I love a proper Sunday dinner. A big meal that makes the house smell amazing and creates enough leftovers for at least one more dinner (click here for the post on my leftover dinner). Perhaps when my kids are old enough not to pull on the table cloth, I’ll even set a nice table. A girl can dream, can’t she? To me, there’s no more classic Sunday dinner than roast chicken. We get ours from Vince Gasparro’s, a family-run butcher on Bloor near Ossington. Everything is good there – his bacon is insane – but the chickens are really special. Raised by Mennonite farmers in St. Jacobs they’re the best tasting chicken I’ve bought in Toronto.

I have a couple of different ways I like to roast a chicken. None of them really lend themselves to a traditional recipe format. Hope that’s okay! Sometimes I lay three or four strips of bacon on top before putting it in the oven. I often make a small batch of sage and onion stuffing (stale bread cubed, onion, sage = done).

I was in a bit of a rush on Sunday so after rinsing the bird well and patting it dry with paper towel – always, always! – I popped it in the roasting pan, put a chopped lemon in the cavity, lifted up the edge of skin on top and pushed in a few branches of thyme and salt and peppered it. I tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string.

Now the chicken/turkey math. I use The Joy’s formula of 15 to 20 minutes per pound. But if its’ a big bird – mine was 6 and 1/2 pounds – that’s a half hour’s difference. So, you just have to hang out nearby toward the end so you can check. I always start with a hot oven, 425 degrees. As soon as the bird goes in the oven, I reduce the heat to 350. The idea is that you’ll get crispy skin and juicy meat.

Pull your bird out when the time is almost up and get out your meat thermometer. Maybe someone can tell if the meat is properly cooked by slicing into it and looking for clear juices but I am not that person. And who wants to risk making their family sick? No, thank you. Put the thermometer in the fleshy part of the drumstick and push in but do not touch the bone. If you take a spin around the web you’ll read different recommendations for the final temp. I’ve seen everything from 160 to 180. Personally, I go with 170 as I know that the meat will continue to cook as it rests. Any higher and your breast meat is going to be dry.

Allow the chicken to rest for at least ten minutes. Put the chicken on a carving board. Here’s a great trick I learned from Jamie Oliver on one of his fab Christmas specials: rather than slice off pieces of meat from the outside in, cut a whole lobe of meat off by putting your knife on one side of the breast bone and cutting down, close to bone. You’ll have a big piece of meat that you can then slice across. That way every piece is as juicy as the next.

Ben and the kids had chicken with roasted potatoes and carrots (I was running out to meet friends for dinner and yes, I’m expecting a pair of wings for cooking a meal I didn’t get to eat!). I use the amazing Delia Smith’s method for roasting potatoes. You parboil them for ten minutes and drain them. Put them back in the pot, put the lid on firmly and bash them around, roughing up their edges. Toss them and the carrots in a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and whatever herbs you like (I used thyme but rosemary or sage would be good, too. Roast them for about an hour or until tender.

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  1. Chris
    April 07, 15:25 Reply

    Usually when I roast a chicken on Sunday it provides my fiancée and I 3 days worth of meals;

    1st night) The back quarters for dinner with some rice/potato and veg

    2nd night) Chicken quesadillas w. side salad

    3rd night) either chicken soup w. toasted bread (chicken broth made from bones of roasted bird), or I do a chicken stir fry over rice (asian/thai… whatever we feel like that night)

    1 bird turns into 3 cheap yet healthy AND tasty meals.

    • Ceri Marsh
      April 12, 20:47 Reply

      Don’t you love it when you get three meals out of one prep? Thanks, Chris!

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