Rosemary Roast Chicken
Sage and shallot peas, chicken au jus
Recipe used with permission.
"My love of fish
is only almost equaled by roast chicken. Last year I decided I wanted to try
and create my perfect roast chicken. Some were brined, but those seemed to
loose that great chicken flavor, others were just plain roasted with
different herbs. In the end, the simple roast chicken won the day. The only
thing that I found would improve the bird slightly was the plentiful
addition of fresh rosemary.
England, we would
always roast some kind of meat on a Sunday, in fact most families would. My
favorite was always roast chicken, and still is! The success of this dish
depends on finding really great pasture raised organic chickens. The
difference between them, and a regular chicken is extraordinary, they are
honestly like two different kinds of bird.
Roast chickens are really
great, a little bit of prep, and you just bung them in the oven. Pretty
simple really! Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Because these things are
so amazing, I often roast two chickens, and have one for sandwiches and so forth
through the week."
Sage and shallot peas, chicken au jus
1 2-3lb organic
pasture raised chicken
1 cup of good
quality organic low sodium chicken broth
4 sprigs of
Bag of frozen
5 Sage leaves
5 small white
Salt and Pepper
1 small leek
1 clove of
1 small onion
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of
Preheat oven to
425. Place a roasting pan, or oven proof frying pan in the oven to heat.
Wash your chicken
thoroughly, inside and out, removing any giblets that might be left. Dry
inside and out very thoroughly with paper towel.
Remove the leaves
of rosemary from the sprigs by running your fingers down the stem, against
the direction of the leaves. Chop the rosemary leaves. Sprinkle the inside
of the chicken with some salt, pepper, and half of your rosemary. I like to
make sure this is rubbed in well into the cavity, and not just sitting in
Sprinkle a little
salt, pepper and rosemary into the joints of the chicken. This is easier to
do before we truss the chicken. Trussing a chicken is the simple step of
tying up the bird, so that it is nice and compact. This does a couple of
things. Firstly, it helps keep the bird moist whilst cooking by protecting
the breast slightly. Secondly, it makes for a great looking bird!
First off, tuck
the wings under the bird, by bending them backwards, and down. Take a piece
of string that is about 4 times the length of your chicken. Place the
chicken on a board, with the tail (legs) pointing away from you. Place the
center of the string, under the bird, at the leg end (about level with the
end of the drumsticks). Bring both sides of string up, and over the
drumsticks, and wrap around them, pulling it tight. You can knot the strings
together here to help hold the bird if you wish.
Run the strings
down the side of the breast, between the leg and the breast. Cross them
under the front of the breast, making sure the string lies across the tucked
in wings, to hold them in place. Bring each string up the side of the bird,
and knot on top of the breast. Cut any excess string off.
Sprinkle the rest
of the rosemary over the bird, along with a little salt and freshly ground
black pepper. Make sure the skin is evenly covered. The salt will help draw
out moisture from the skin, making it crispy.
Remove your pan
for the chicken from the oven, and gently lower the chicken onto it. It is
most likely going to crackle loudly, and spit, since the pan is hot. Get the
pan back into the oven as quickly as possible. The chicken is going to take
between 45 to 60 minutes to cook. The chicken is cooked when its temperature
reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. To check this, insert a cooking thermometer
into the fleshy part of the thigh, right by the breast - it should read 160.
When you remove the thermometer, make sure the juices from the hole that is
made run out clear. If there thermometer doesnít read 160, or the juices
arenít clear, the bird needs longer to cook.
Once the chicken
is in the oven lets start prepping some of the vegetables for the au jus. I
like to simmer my chicken broth in some vegetables and herbs, to give it
extra flavor. Thinly slice the leek, carrots and onion. Discard the outer
layer of the leek, since it will be tough. Only slice the leek up until the
green section. Discard the green top.
Heat a medium
sized saucepan over a medium heat. When the pan is hot add the onions. If
you need a little liquid to stop the onion from sticking, put a little water
in. I donít like to use any fat here, as it can leave a film on your au jus,
unless properly strained. You want to just soften the onions. Now throw in
the garlic, carrots, leek, thyme and bay leaf. Mix this around. Pour all of
your chicken stock into this saucepan, and mix again. Turn the heat up to
high, and get this boiling. Once boiling reduce to a simmer. We want this to
simmer for about 30 minutes.
When this has
been cooking for about 30 minutes, remove from the heat and strain through a
fine mesh sieve, keep the stock and discard the vegetables/herbs. This stock
is now ready to use in the au jus.
About 35 minutes
into the cooking, I like to check to make sure the breast isnít too brown.
If it looks like the breast has browned enough, you can cover the bird with
some foil, and put it back in the oven. This will allow the bird to cook,
but will slow down the browning of the skin.
Now comes the
best part of roasting a chicken... Nothing!
Sit back, relax,
have a glass of wine.. read a book (more of this one!). There is nothing
really to be done until 10 minutes before the bird is done.
When the chicken is
almost done, peel and chop the shallot reasonably finely. Wash the sage leaves,
and finely chop those too.
Remove the chicken
from the oven. Carefully lift it out of the roasting pan, tipping out any juices
from inside the bird into the pan. Place the bird on a carving board, and cover
with foil to keep warm. The bird will keep cooking at this point, we are just
letting it rest for 10 minutes, to help the juices distribute throughout the
meat, before cutting.
In a medium sized
frying pan, over a medium heat, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. When heated,
add the shallots and sage. Slowly saute the sage and shallots together. We want
these to cook down a bit, and the shallots go a little translucent. We donít
want the heat high enough to brown the shallots however.
As the shallots are
slowly cooking, lets get going on the au jus. This is easier if you roasted your
bird in a frying pan (or a pan that is OK to go onto the stove). Pour any juices
from the pan into a measuring jug. Let the juices settle. You should see the
liquid separate into two layers. The top layer is fat, and the bottom layer is
the great flavourful juice. Using a turkey baster, suck up the juice from under
the fat layer, and squirt this back into your roasting pan/frying pan. Turn up
the heat and add the broth that we simmered with vegetables. The broth should
start boiling fast. Using a spoon scrap up the bits from the bottom of the pan.
The use of a fast boiling liquid (stock or wine) and lifting the bits from the
pan is called ďdeglazingĒ. Let this boil away until the liquid has reduced by
half, and the mixture is becoming a little more syrupy.
Back to the shallots.
Add a couple of handfuls of frozen peas to the shallot/sage mixture. Keep
stirring this (and the au jus!) to make sure the peas start defrosting evenly.
They will only take a few minutes to defrost and cook through. Make sure you
donít cook them too much, no one likes mushy peas!
With the peas ready,
and the au jus ready, we can start cutting up the chicken. Make sure that the
chicken au jus stays warm through all the carving - just keep it over a low
heat. I like to serve large pieces of chicken, rather than carving up the bird
(which is traditional in England). Start by getting a really sharp knife. Cut
the string off the bird. We are going to remove both legs, then remove the
breasts with the wings still attached to them. Pull one leg slightly away from
the breast, and start slowly cutting down into the joint between the leg and the
breast. Use the tip of your knife to find the joint, and cut through it. The leg
should now come off easily. This can take a bit of practice... your first one
might not look so hot! Once this is done, repeat for the other side.
The next thing to do
is to cut the breast off the chicken carcass. Place your knife along the top of
the breast, slightly to one side of the middle. Start cutting down into the
bird. As you cut, you will be able to see the breast bone, make sure you cut to
one side of that, not through it! Keep cutting all the way down until you get to
the wing. Just cut through the bottom of the chicken, and the breast and wing
should come off as one. Again, this takes some practice. Repeat this for the
Carefully spoon a mound of peas into the center of a plate. Make sure they donít
roll all over the plate, but are in a nice circular pile. Gently place a couple
of pieces of chicken on top of the peas. I like to find creative ways to wrap
the pieces together. I typically serve a breast and a leg on the same plate. Use
the leg and the wing (still attached to the breast) to support both pieces
together. You can also serve two legs together, which can look great on a plate
(shown at the start of this recipe). Pour half of the chicken au jus over the
top. Repeat for your second plate.
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