I woke up Sunday morning with a headache and a craving for a Sunday roast, maybe it was subconscious homesickness due to my recent move to America or maybe it was just a craving for a tasty, simple meal. Priya, not enjoying ‘white people’s food’, was reluctant for a roast, however I brought her around. We went to the Whole Foods closest to my new house and bought a roasting chicken, which was strangely called a frying chicken, but hey. We also bought plenty of root vegetables, including potatoes (Yukon Gold), parsnips, sweet potato, carrots and leeks. Priya also grabbed some asparagus that we planned on roasting too. The chicken takes the longest to cook so at about 6:00 I began preparing the chicken. This entails removing the giblets (kidneys, heart etc), which should be in a bag inside the chicken, or may not be present at all. The giblets can be used for other things, like a påtè, or flavouring stews, however I threw them away as Priya was having none of that. I then seasoned the chicken generously all over the skin and inside the cavity. The chicken needs a lot of flavour so go crazy with the herbs, I used thyme and rosemary. I also stuffed the chicken with a lemon (halved), which added a bit of tang and kept it from drying out from within. I like to separate the chicken breast meat from the skin with my fingers and stuff flavour in the gap like garlic cloves, herbs, salt and pepper. To be extra decadent you could put butter in there as well. I then coated the whole chicken in olive oil. During this prep the oven was also pre-heating to 450 degrees. I like to put the chicken in at 450 for about 20 minutes to get the skin crisping up and then lower the temperature to 350 degrees for the rest of the roasting time, which for my chicken was around two hours.
After the chicken had been in for a little while I went about preparing the vegetables. I left the potatoes’ skins on as this is where most of the nutrients are and cut them into small cubes. The smaller size gives more surface area to volume ratio (learned that in biology), meaning more crispy bits, my fave. I peeled and diced the sweet potato, chopped up the carrots and peeled and cut the parsnips. I also threw in lots of whole garlic cloves with the skins on and an onion, halved and peeled. I then coated them all in pepper, chopped thyme, rosemary and lots of olive oil. Don’t salt the vegetables before cooking as this makes the water leech out (osmosis, also learned that in biology) and prevents the veggies from getting crispy, instead salt them after they are cooked, just before serving.
The veg takes about 40 minutes, so plan that in accordance with the chicken’s cooking time. The chicken does however need to rest after cooking for about 20 minutes. So I put the veg in when the chicken had about 30 minutes left and then when the chicken was done I cranked up the temperature until the veggies were crispy and cooked through. Cooking time all depends on the size you like your veg though. Oh and don’t forget to turn, flip or toss your vegetables every ten minutes or so to make sure none burn and all sides get crispy. When the chicken was done I removed it and covered it with aluminum foil to keep the heat in.
I then made a gravy, which entailed making a roux with the fat left in the pan under the chicken and flour. I added a tablespoon or two of flour (amount depends on how thick you like your gravy) to some of the fat in the chicken’s cooking pan and cooked over a medium flame on the stove. I also like to add a chicken stock cube, however this time I added a vegetable stock cube as Priya noticed that the chicken stock cubes had beef in them?! When the flour was cooked and a dark paste had formed, I added a little bit of wine and reduced. If the flour hasn’t been cooked with the fat enough it may go lumpy. When the wine had reduced I added hot water slowly over high heat allowing it to combine. If you are boiling vegetables use the cooking water to make the gravy, as I wasn’t I just used hot water out of the tap. I Stirred and added water until my desired consistency had been reached, et voila, gravy.