Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Roast Post

In the absence of anything interesting to blog about, I am going to present you with a helpful guide on how to roast a chicken. If you already know how to roast a chicken or don't care to learn right now, this post may not be for you.

Roasting a chicken seems like such a big difficult deal, especially because while the recipes say something like "stick it in the oven for this long, then take it out again" they don't answer the important questions, like "what do I put it in the oven in" and "what if I want vegetables" and "do I put the chicken in butt first or head first?"

So I am setting out to answer these questions, and more, in this, the Absolute Idiot's Beginner's Guide to Chicken and Vegetable Roasting. (If you want to roast something else, this is not the place for you. My target market for this is shrinking rapidly.)

And as I walk you through this, it may get daunting, but please remember that we are essentially heating up a dead bird, not terraforming the Moon.*

*post on this next week.


A Chicken (the sort you buy in a bag, from the supermarket - if you're doing this from scratch then you're on your own with the plucking.)
Roasting Bag (you need an Oven Bag - you might be tempted to think a Freezer Bag will do but trust me, the chicken will not fit in.)
Vegetables (potatoes, pumpkin, parsnips, onion and yams are all good)
Water and/or cooking oil, depending on how healthy you feel like being

First, take the chicken out of the bag. Unless it's frozen, in which case thaw it then take it out of the bag. With me so far? Good. Preheat the oven to 180 or 200 degrees C (I can't remember which one and it doesn't really seem to matter a whole lot.)

Spread the chicken's legs. Heh heh heh. If you want to make the chicken do a little dance, now is the time. Hold the chicken under the tap, butt-up, and fill it with water. Empty the chicken and repeat. Now reach inside the chicken's bum and feel around for a big lump of fat. It's pretty near the butthole. Grab this and pull it free - the chicken is dead, it won't mind - then throw it out. We do not need that buttfat. Put the chicken down now. Ok, make it dance one more time, then put it down.

Put a dessertspoon of flour into the oven bag and shake it all about (holding the top of the bag closed while you're doing this.) Tip the flour out. The inside of the bag should be a bit floury now. Good Job!

Insert the chicken headfirst into the bag - you can guide it in from a height and pretend it's in a diving competition if you like, I usually do - and close the top of the bag with a twist tie. (They should have come in the packet with the oven bags and if they didn't you should complain.)

Put the bag down on a roasting dish, so the chicken is lying on its stomach, breasts pointing skywards. Make a couple of small holes in the bag - on the top half of the bag, otherwise the fat will all run out, and we will need that fat later. Doesn't really matter how big the holes are, they just need to be there so that the bag doesn't explode during cooking.

Put this in the oven and make a note of the time - the meal will be done in an hour and a half.

Chop up your veges now, while the chicken is getting started. Peel potatoes, and pumpkin if you can be bothered. Chop the onion into slices, like you'd slice an apple - you want it to make a little fan of onion, um, leaves when it's cooked. Don't peel the yams. I have no idea what to do with the parsnip because I think parsnip's kind of revolting. Everything wants to be about the same size. Incidentally, this is the easy part - you've already performed cosmetic surgery on a chicken's butt. Good Job!

After the chicken's been in for half an hour, take it out and place the veges around it in a nice little pattern of your own devising. Pour water into the roasting pan so that the veges look like they're lying in the bath - it's better to have too much water in there than too little. If you're not being healthy, you can also squirt cooking oil all over them. Yum Yum.

Whack it all back in the oven then mix yourself a drink - don't get too drunk because you still have to turn over the veges. Take roasting pan out after 30 minutes has passed and turn the veges over. Some of them will have stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan. Relax! This is normal. Just pour in some more water until they are bathing again (but not floating) and squirt on some more oil. Just imagine that it is baby oil. These vegetables are lying in the spa, soaking up the sun, covered in baby oil. Soon they will be crispy and delicious. Yum Yum.

Back in the oven with it.

Another 30 minutes passes. Remove the whole lot from the oven, and stick a fork into one of the bigger bits of vege to see if it's done. Ha ha ha, whatever. We both know you're just going to eat it and see. Do that. If everything's done, take it out. If it's not done, chuck it back in and check every 15 mins until it is done.

Take the veges out of the roasting dish and stick them on a serving platter or whatever. Lift up the chicken by the top of the bag, then cut the bottom corner of the bag off and let all of the fat run out into the roasting pan. Put the chicken on a plate.

Stop. Gravy time!

The secret to making gravy is to not worry if it has lumps. That is what sieves are for. Leave the fat-filled roasting pan on top of the stove, and turn the element on to low. Chuck a couple of spoonfuls of flour into the fat, and squidge them about with the back of the spoon, trying to eliminate as many lumps as possible. If there are bits of roast vege stuck to the bottom of the pan, feel free to incorporate these. Add water and flour and squidge it all about until you have enough gravy.

If it's too light in colour, drip in some dark soy sauce - you don't need much, it won't affect the flavour, and it'll colour the gravy up nicely. When you've got the right amount, if you're Jamie Oliver then there will be no lumps. Sadly, you are not Jamie Oliver. A sieve is good, buta tea strainer will do just as well because then a) you can decant it straight into the gravy boat and b) tea strainers are nowhere near as fiddly to clean as sieves are.

Turn off the element. Carve up the chicken as best you know how. Serve.


Holly said...

Excellent. You should have a cooking show, complete with dancing, diving chicken. I would watch. :D

Baglady said...

When I read "Stop! Gravy time!" all I hear is MC Hammer and his new role as roast chicken waiter to the queen.

wv = snestra trying to have an afternoon nap when you've got a bad cold.