Sunday Dinners: Roast Chicken

I think the concept of a Sunday dinner is lost on most of my generation.  We all had them growing up, sometimes big affairs with grandma, grandpa and the aunts, uncles & cousins coming over.  Sitting at the big table, making sure not to put your elbows on it and asking politely for someone to pass the peas.

I for one think Sundays are important days when it comes to eating.  A nice hearty meal and a good conversation to help you relax and get ready for a frenzied, stressful Monday.

Most of our Sunday dinners now are just Joey & I, and it would really be easy to just order a pizza and not really talk as we shovel it down while watching TV (sometimes we do exactly that).  But I like meandering in the kitchen, knowing that my chores are done, my plans for the upcoming week have been made and I can spend the evening immersed in a good book.

Roast Chicken

1 1.3-1.5kg (3 – 3 1/2lb) roasting chicken, trimmed of most of the fat & loose skin

2-3 medium leeks, halved, white & light green parts only

2 medium carrots, halved

2 celery ribs, halved

4-5 cloves of garlic

2 bay leaves

chicken neck (if it’s still with the chicken), optional

1 small piece of parmesan rind, optional

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

For the compound butter

1/4 cup butter at room temperature

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried thyme, or 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh

1 tsp savory

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

For the gravy

1/3 cup chicken stock

3 Tbsp flour

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Line the bottom of a medium sized roasting pan with the leeks, carrots and celery.  Peel the garlic cloves and fit them, along with the bay leaves, chicken neck and parmesan rind, in the spaces between and around the vegetables.  Add the 1 1/2 cups chicken stock.

In a small bowl mix together the butter, thyme, savory, pepper, salt and minced garlic.  Put spoonfuls of the butter under the chicken skin and rub the top of the skin to push the butter to the front of the breast.  Put dollops of the remaining butter in the front and back cavities of the chicken and rub the rest of the butter over the top of the chicken.  Put the chicken in the roasting pan and cover it with foil.

Bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.  Take the chicken out off the roasting pan and cover it with foil to let it rest. You can reserve the vegetables as well, if you want to serve them along with the chicken.

Strain the drippings into a small saucepan.  In a small bowl mix together the 1/3 cup chicken stock and the flour.  Heat the drippings over medium until they start bubbling.  Once they bubble add the stock/flour mixture and whisk thoroughly.  Continue whisking until the gravy thickens.

Serve with the reserved vegetables, mashed potatoes or like I did – rice & peas.

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