Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ethan's Roast Chicken and Gravy

This is my favorite meal. And I really mean that. If I have a chance to request a last meal before my death, this is the main dish. Ethan has perfected the perfect roast chicken. Moist, perfectly seasoned, crisp skin and the quintessential gravy to drown it in. When Ethan and I got married, he began a quest to perfect his favorite recipes. This chicken is something he has worked hard on. And that means I have eaten a lot of roast chicken in the last 7 years.

The garlic and rosemary under the skin.
And here is a brilliant idea from my husband.

Prep the chicken in your clean kitchen sink.
Then you don't dirty a cutting board. Smart.

What makes this roast chicken so special? Something you won't believe. Mayonnaise. Yes, mayo. You slather the entire chicken in mayonnaise before seasoning. Sounds kind of kooky, but let me convince you otherwise. What is in mayo? Eggs and oil. What do eggs do to something? You put an egg wash on a pie crust to give it a pretty golden color. And why do you put oil on chicken? Well, it crispens it up. So lets take two good ingredients and put them together and slather them on a bird. Not only does the mayo give the bird color and crispness, but it provides the ideal texture for the seasonings. Nothing falls off the skin. My mom used Ethan's method on her Thanksgiving turkey and it was by far the most excellent turkey she has ever turned out. Seriously, the most excellent.

Pretty bird all lubed up with mayo and seasoned and ready to take a bake in the oven.
Notice the toothpicks. Their job is to hold the skin in place so it doesn't shrink up while roasting.

So imagine the skin after roasting. Incredibly flavorful, crisp, perfectly browned. And who just doesn't like crisp poultry skin? No one. If you are leery about using mayo, I beg of you to trust me. It's what sets this roast chicken apart from any other.

What do you do while waiting for the chicken to cook? You take a nap. Here is Ethan, Jack and Ethan's tired college student little sister Stephanie, taking a luscious Sunday nap. What I want to know is why I didn't nap as well. Am I pregnant or not? Aren't Sunday naps a right of passage during pregnancy?

For the chicken:
1 3 lb whole chicken
4 garlic cloves, sliced lengthwise into thirds
1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped off
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Lawry's seasoning salt
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp kosher salt
A few grinds black pepper

For the gravy:
All pan drippings
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup flour

Set oven to 375 degrees.

Pat the chicken dry. Gently lift skin and loosed skin from the breast. Slip in garlic slices and rosemary leaves and distribute evenly over the breast.

With your hands, spread mayonnaise evenly over the entire chicken. With the breast side up, evenly sprinkle seasoning salt, poultry seasoning and salt. Add a few grinds of black pepper. Press toothpicks into the chicken where you loosened the skin to put the garlic and rosemary in. Place bird on the rack of a roasting pan. Cover loosely with foil. Roast for 2 1/2 hours, removing foil after one hour.

Remove roasting pan from the oven. With two fork, gently lift the chicken and set onto a cutting board to rest while making the gravy. For the gravy, pour and scrape all drippings from the roasting pan into a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken stock, poultry seasoning and red pepper flakes. In a small bowl, whisk together butter and flour. Once the chicken stock mixture is simmering, whisk in butter flour mixture. Gravy should thicken. Once thickened, simmer gravy for an additional 5 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.

Once the gravy is finished and the chicken has rested, remove toothpicks, carve chicken and set on a platter. Serve chicken with gravy and rice or mashed potatoes.

Yields enough chicken and gravy for 5 servings.

Served with this: good bread for dipping, long grain white rice, steamed baby carrots with browned butter and pecans. And chocolate souffle for dessert. And then the Olympics to aid digestion.

What your gravy should look like.
Darker and separated before whisking in the butter and flour.
Once the butter and flour have made their final descent, the gravy will be lighter in color.

Rookie's Notes: If your gravy isn't as thick as you want after adding the butter flour mixture, you can further thicken it with a quick fix of vegetable oil and flour. Whisk together 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and 2 Tbsp flour and then whisk that into the gravy. Why use vegetable oil instead of butter? We are lazy and anxious to eat. It is more convenient to just throw together a quick thickener with that. And why not just add flour? You run the risk of it clumping up in the gravy. So you "thin it out" with vegetable oil, or butter in the case of the first thickening addition. I wouldn't recommend thickening the gravy with 1/4 cup vegetable oil and flour. Butter adds a far superior taste and texture, a silky smooth texture. BTW, here is what your butter and flour mixture should look like.

If you don't have a roasting pan, you can use a glass 9x13 inch pan. But if you want a great roasting pan, Pampered Chef. Their roasting pan is ideal. My Auntie Robin is a big wig Pampered Chef lady and I have bought lots of great products from her over the years. My roasting pan is my favorite. We've used it for roasting ribs, chicken and prime rib. I have used it to bake creme brulees or chocolate souffles in a water bath. And Robin told me that one of her customers uses it to make lasagna for her extended family of 40. So if you are looking for a great roasting pan, Pampered Chef has it.

And lastly, you will notice that Ethan didn't stuff anything in the cavity of the bird. I asked him why he never does and he said, "You don't eat the cavity". Good enough reason for me.


Emily said...

I've never made a roast chicken at home and now I'm determined to do so thanks to your post! This looks divine! (And the mayo thing doesn't scare me a bit!)

Melanie said...

Noted as your favorite meal. I'll be making this soon. Looks fantastic. And I love the how-to photos.

Lisa said...

This is brilliant! I am not a fan of mayo, but I will trust you on this one. :) I will report back after I've made it and thank you for another wonderful recipe! :O)

Emily said...

I am so sold! I have to try this very soon. Thank you, or thank you to your husband for all of his hard work.

Sarah said...

That Ethan is smart - I am never preping my chicken on the counter (on a cutting board) again

Nan said...

Great post, I am loving the mayo idea and I hate mayo!

Donna said...

Roast chicken is one of my favorite meals...I recently made one. I slathered it in butter, garlic, salt and pepper and put it in the oven. It came out golden and delicious. The mayo is a perfect idea...

Julia Child would say Bravo, or most likely, "Bon Appetit!"

Sweet Relief said...

When I admitted to a grocery store clerk that I was going to be in charge of my first turkey for Thanksgiving she gave me advice on how to do it and said to smother the whole thing in mayo. I thought it was some strange southern ritual to thoroughly fatten your guest (I'm in Georgia) and didn't do it (but did throw in the onion, orange and lemon into my turkey like she suggested). But if you give it the go ahead I'll definitely go with it!

Emily said...

I made this tonight. It was perfect. I'll never roast a bird without mayo again.

My Bright Corner said...

Seeing the pic of the chicken in the sink reminds me of my great-great grandmother. She was German {meaning...ultra clean} and she washed her chicken with soap and water before cooking it. And that was before anyone knew about ecoli and all the yucky germs. :)

Lindsay said...

I'm making this tonight, I won't lie... I'm a little scared!

sydgav said...

Okay Whitney, I made a turkey the other night using this method and I will NEVER EVER make turkey or chicken for that matter, any other way. I called my mom and told her that my turkey beats her turkey up any day. She is anxious to try this out now. This was soooo delicious! Thank you!

tmiller said...

I made this for dinner tonight and it was really good!Thank you! :)