Sunday, October 13, 2013

Roast Chicken and Gravy

Warning: You have to start this recipe a day ahead!

I'm picky about roast chicken. I like my white meat to be just as juicy as my dark meat. I want the skin crispy and well seasoned. And I don't want the cooking to take all day. For the most part that means I buy my chickens already-cooked from the Peruvian restaurant down the hill (not a bad option). But I don't always crave the Peruvian flavor (it's OK to be shocked!) and there is carrageenan in grocery store rotisserie chicken (no bueno). That left me with no other option than to roast my own chickens.

To satisfy my roast-chicken-requirements without rigging a make-shift rotisserie in my oven, I applied the same technique CaveBoy and I use for our Thanksgiving turkey: Brine + Spatchcock.

We developed this technique after minutes of intensive research through a holiday issue of Martha Stewart Living. She recommended a brine for one of her roast turkey recipes and later in the issue she included step-by-step instructions for removing the backbone and flattening a turkey to reduce cooking time. We combined to two to great success and will never cook a turkey another way (ok maybe if we had a frier we'd try that. But that's it!).

So, knowing how delicious and amazing brined + spatchcocked poultry can be, I pulled together the necessary ingredients for my roast chicken. And I wasn't disappointed. The skin was crispy. The meat was juicy. And the spatchcocking process allowed me to use the removed chicken parts to create a delicious gravy. After the preparations and overnight part were done, I was able to pull the meal together pretty quickly. I'd recommend this one equally for cook-ahead CaveGirls (like me) and work-night paleo chefs.  

Roast Chicken and Gravy
To round out the meal, I made Bacon Braised Greens and
simply-baked acorn squash. It was magical.

For the chicken:


2 whole roasting chickens
4 bay leaves
1 head garlic, cloves smashed
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup pepper corns
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons rubbed sage
2 tablespoons dried tarragon
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried rosemarie, crushed
2 tablespoons grass fed butter (for roasting)
1 teaspoon dill seed


Remove the gizzard pouch from each chicken and set aside for the gravy. With a pair of kitchen scissors, spatchcock each chicken (aka remove the backbone so that the chicken can be flattened for cooking). Place the chickens in a large container (we use clean, unscented trash bags - because we're classy like that). Add all the ingredients to make the brine (everything on the list besides the butter). Add enough water so that the chickens are covered. Seal tightly and refrigerate overnight.

When you're about ready to cook the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator, carefully remove the chickens from the brine, and arrange them on a baking sheet (you might need to use two baking sheets depending on your chickens). Press firmly on the breast bones to fully flatten the birds. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut the butter into little chunks and arrange on the top of the chickens. Place in oven and roast at 450 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. About 45 to 55 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

For the gravy:


Gizzards from two chickens
Backbones from two chickens
6 cloves garlic, smashed
3 stalks celery, cut in half
1/2 yellow onion, cut into 4 pieces
1/3 cup potato starch (to thicken the gravy at the end)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons herbs de provence
Salt and pepper
Poultry seasoning


Place all ingredients (except potato starch) in your Crock-Pot. Fill with water. Set on high until it begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and let cook overnight. In the morning, remove from heat and let cool. Remove bones and strain liquid. Set aside until you are ready to make the gravy.

Pour eight cups of chicken stock into a large stock pot (store any remaining stock in freezer bags for future use). Bring to a boil. If you have the desire, and the timing is right, pour the pan drippings from the roasted chicken into the gravy pot. Stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together potato starch and 1 cup of cold water. Slowly pour potato starch slurry into boiling stock and whisk continuously (to avoid lumps). Return liquid to a boil. It should become a thickened gravy. Re-season with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning to taste. Makes 8 servings.

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