Thursday, 15 April 2010

Juicy Roast Chicken


Nothing spells simplicity and satisfaction like roast chicken, some might say it's the easiest thing in world to make. Basically, just throw the chicken in the oven and pull it out when it's done, right? Hmm, sounds like my mom's recipe. Yet, it's one of those dishes that can range from sublime all the way to "not chicken again!"
The first time I made this wonderful roast chicken, GB made me promise to never roast chicken any other way again. And, believe me, coming from a guy who will eat just about anything (he's not that discriminating- he enjoys the English delicacy called Breakfast in a Can) that's quite a testimonial to this method of roasting.

The key to making this chicken super juicy, is brining the chicken first. Sounds complicated, but it's really the easiest thing in the world, and takes about three minutes to do.  Just rub one cup of salt all over the chicken, both inside and out, then pop it in a pot, cover with cold water and stick in the fridge for three hours. This step makes all the difference in the world.

After brining the chicken, rinse it well in cold water and pat dry with paper towels (or kitchen roll to all the Brits out there). Now, stuff it with thyme sprigs, sage leaves, a bay leaf, onion, celery, and one small orange quartered.
Step two in making sure your chicken is both juicy and crispy is basting, basting, basting.  Shirley O. Corriher in CookWise, has an incredible basting solution that calls for 4 Tbs melted butter and 3 Tbs dark corn syrup. Of course, I am in Europe reading American cookbooks, and some ingredients, such as corn syrup,  just can't be found here. So, the next best thing that I have found is Lyle's Golden Syrup.

Ahh, Lyle's Golden Syrup. As the Brits would say, it is gorgeous! So, for incredibly juicy and crispy roast chicken, brine, stuff, and baste.

Shirley Corriher's Juicy Roast Chicken
1 6-pound roasting chicken                                      1 small orange, quartered
1 cup salt                                                                  1 bay leaf
2 onions                                                                   3 tablespoons dark corn syrup or Lyles Syrup
3 leaf ends of celery stalks                                      4 tablespoons butter, melted
10 sage leaves                                                          3 tablespoons cornstarch (corn flour)
10 sprigs fresh thyme                                               1/4 cold water                              
1 quart and 1/4 cup cold water

1. Coat chicken is salt and brine for 3 hours in refrigerator. Remove chicken and pat dry.

2. While chicken is in fridge, prepare a simple stock from the giblets by adding 1 quart of water along with some onion and garlic and simmering for an hour or so. Or, just make a simple stock with a bouillon cube and water. 

3. Preheat oven to 475 F or 246 C
4. Arrange a V rack for holding the bird over a pan to catch the juices. Pour 1 1/2 cups of stock into the pan and reserve the rest for gravy. Stuff chicken with celery, sage, thyme, bay leaf and orange.

5. Mix the syrup and butter together and brush chicken lightly all over. Place chicken breast side down in pan and roast for 20 minutes, basting with drippings every 7 minutes. Take chicken out of oven and turn it so that one leg and thigh are facing up. Baste with butter mixture and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven again and flip bird so that the other leg and thigh are up, and baste well with butter mixture. Return to oven for 10 more minutes.

6. Turn oven temperature down to 325F and remove bird from oven. Keep oven door open for a moment to let the temperature drop quickly. Now turn bird so the breast side is facing up and baste again with the butter mixture. Return to oven, and baste every 5 minutes, checking the temperature of the breast meat with an instant-read thermometer each time you baste. Remove the bird when the breast meat registers between 150F and 154F. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before you carve.

7. Add the pan drippings to the remaining stock and thicken with cornstarch (whisk cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold water first). Heat over medium heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly until the gravy thickens.

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