Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Pot Roasted Chicken

Pot Roasted Chicken

I think I've tried pretty much every roast chicken recipe I've ever come across and it's been a lot, but while most of them are great, some of them seem so unnecessarily fiddly. The last thing I want on a Sunday when I'm making a roast is too much effort - Sundays are lazy days for me. So, I roast my chickens this way these days and while I'm definitely not the first person to roast a chicken in a casserole, I've tried this time and again, adjusting things as I've gone along and finally I've found what I believe is the easiest way to get the perfect, crispy skinned roast chicken. We've been having this once a week for most of this year and it never gets old. 

The thing I love most about roasting a chicken in a casserole besides that it's super easy is that I can then just use the same pan to make the gravy while the chicken is resting and it tastes incredible! If you don't own a cast iron casserole with a lid, I can't tell you enough how much I recommend one. I've had my Le Creuset Casserole for nearly 10 years and I've used it so much for everything from roasts and stews to baking to making the perfect bolognese sauce. It's an essential as far as I'm concerned. That said, I know how expensive they are, but there are lots of more affordable options out there these days which would be perfect, such as the version at Robert Dyas that's currently on sale for just £24.99.

It's worth noting that cooking times will vary for the chicken depending on your oven and the size of the bird you buy, but luckily with this method of covering the chicken while it roasts for most of the cooking time, it's not easily dried out, but you definitely want to be sure you cook it thoroughly and this is where it's handy to have a meat thermometer on hand. Finally, you could roast some new potatoes in the pan alongside the chicken, but I never do. I've found that it changes the environment of the pan and the juices which I use for the gravy, so I tend to simply cut some new potatoes into halves or quarters and put them in a separate little baking tray, cover them with oil and season them before popping them into the oven for about 45 minutes or until crispy and cooked through. I know this isn't the typical way to roast potatoes, but it's easy and they're delicious, so this is just what I normally serve, but you can do whatever potatoes or veg you like. I also suggest either having some Yorkshire puddings or my personal preference, fresh crusty bread on the side for soaking up some of the delicious gravy.

Roast chicken dinner

For the chicken...
Large Whole Chicken
100g of butter
1 whole lemon, pierced several times with a knife
Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper

For the gravy...
A knob of butter
A tablespoon or two of plain white flour
500ml chicken stock 
Lemon juice to taste (optional)

1. Pre-heat the oven to maximum heat on a regular, no-fan setting if possible. Meanwhile, grease your casserole by either rubbing some butter all along the inside or spray with some non-stick cooking spray.

2. Pop your chicken into the casserole and if it's trussed, remove the strings and discard them. Place the pierced lemon inside the chicken's cavity and rub the 100g of butter all over the skin, massaging it in as much as possible. Salt and pepper the top and pop into the oven without the lid for 30 minutes to crisp the skin. Don't worry if you're chicken is squeezed into the casserole tightly - as long as the lid will fit on, it's perfectly fine.

3. After the 30 minutes, your bird should look crispy golden brown on top. Baste it quickly with either the pan juices or a little chicken stock and pop on the lid. If you don't have a baster, just use a spoon, but be careful not to burn yourself. Reduce the heat to 200°C (180°C Fan) and leave it to roast for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Be sure to baste the chicken another time or two during the process either with the pan juices or with some chicken stock. 

4. Once the chicken is done, remove it from the oven. Take the chicken out of the pot - I find it's easiest to do this using a pair of sturdy tongs and a wooden spoon, getting underneath it to support the weight - and place it on a plate or a cutting board. Cover with two layers of foil loosely and leave to rest for about 15 or 20 minutes while you make the gravy and finish off any sides you're serving. Chicken cooked on the bone should retain its heat for around 30 minutes while it rests and the foil will help with that as well, so there's really no need to feel like you have to rush.

5. Once it has rested, you can carve and serve your beautiful bird with whatever sides and trimmings you like. I prefer my homemade gravy (see recipe below) whenever possible, but you can use whatever sauces and sides you prefer. You can also remove the lemon from the cavity and carefully half and then squeeze over the chicken. Be careful not to burn yourself.

For the gravy... 
Firstly let me say that gravy is a numbers game... I almost never make the right amount because it all depends on how much it thickens so I usually end up with a little too much. However, there's no such thing as too much gravy as far as I'm concerned. So, I usually go with this for a measure... For 2-4 people, I use 1 heaping tablespoon of flour. For 4 or more people I would use 2 heaping tablespoons of flour and you may or may not need more than the suggested 500ml of chicken stock. In my opinion, it's better to have too much than not enough so you'll have to go with your gut. But here's a rough guide and the more you do it, the more you'll make your own tweaks until it has the consistency and flavour that suits your palette best...

1. Once you've removed the chicken from the pan, also remove most of the juices and reserve them in a bowl that you set aside for a few minutes. Leave just a little bit of the cooking juices in the bottom of the pan, about enough to cover the bottom.

2. Put the casserole with some of the juices on medium high heat and scrape the bottom & sides of the pan to loosen some of the crispy, crunchy bits left behind by the chicken. When the juices start to bubble up, add the knob of butter and stir in until melted and bubbling up. 

3. Using a wire whisk, stir in the flour and let it cook for a minute or two in the butter. Then stir in the remaining juices from the chicken. It should thicken up really nicely. Add a bit of lemon juice at this point if you're using it and while still stirring, pour in some chicken stock, a little at a time until you reach a consistency you like. Keep stirring until you have a nice drippy, but still slightly thick consistency that would coat the back of a spoon, but not clumpy.

4. Season to taste if needed and if desired, add more lemon juice. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer while you plate or serve. 

5. Stir before serving in case of a skin on top until smooth and if it's too thick, simply add some more chicken stock. If it gets too thin, you can slake a spoonful of flour in some milk with a whisk and stir that in to thicken it. Pour into a gravy boat (preferably warmed in the oven) and serve alongside the chicken.


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