When I was working as a freelance chef in London England, (mid 70's) I worked a Thanksgiving for Ms Faye Dunnaway and her husband.
The house she had rented, for the duration of the movie she was starring in "Supergirl", had a great space for working but the oven was too small for the enormous turkey she had purchased. So, much to her horror I explained I would have to amputate the legs and cook them separately, and then skewer them back into place for it to be carved at the table.
When the bird was carved it was the best she had ever had.
Fast Forward 20 yrs on Palm Beach, Florida..I was working for a Rock and Roll singer and he loved my roasted chicken so much that he wanted to have it every day...this is the secret to success for all domestic fowl and some game birds:
Wash the bird well in salted fresh water, and drain.
Marinate the bird overnight in grape seed oil, ground paprika and herbs of choice, I prefer thyme or sage, not both...Store well wrapped in the fridge.
The day of cooking
Preheat the oven to 400F..shelf in middle
In the roasting pan..(allow 2 onions per 4pounds of bird)..lay 2 onions with skin, in the bottom of the pan and fill up to 2 inches deep with good chicken stock or water.
( you may also use celery sticks & carrots..the skin of the bird should not touch any metal in the roasting pan).
This is known as The German way of roasting, although all the German's I have worked for have never heard of it..steam roasting works really well.
Place the bird back side down (Breast side up)...do not use the marinade..throw away, because of salmonella).
Also, notice I do not use any salt, as this draws precious moisture from the birds.
For chicken add 1 tbsp grapes seed oil or cover the top with slices of bacon
For turkey push 1 pound butter( softened) between the skin of the breast, then lightly massage with oil before placing in roasting pan breast side up.
Cook chickens 20 mins at 400F..do not cover
Then reduce heat to 375F and cook 20 mins per pound if single bird or 25 mins per double birds
For Turkey cook 30 mins at 400F then allow 20 mins per pound at 325F..check the bird after 2hours and you might have to protect the breast with foil.
When the chickens are ready.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 mins.
Remove carefully from the pan.
|Making the gravy|
Allow juices to settle in pan, and pour off any fat.
Add hot chicken stock to the roasting pan, and using a wooden spoon, stir well especially on the bottom of the pan, over medium heat.
Bring to high simmer.
Remove any fat from the surface
Thicken with either cornstarch or all purpose flour (either shaken in a capped jelly jar)..when the gravy is thick enough, strain into a saucepan and check seasonings..serve hot with the bird.
For game birds reduce the heat to 325F and allow 15 mins per pound.
Also gravy for game birds sometimes includes red currant jelly/claret
all these recipes are for an unstuffed bird...as I find it safer to cook the stuffing separate.
Sage & Onion Stuffing..serves 6
2 cups chopped brown/Spanish onions
1 cup chopped celery
4 rashers bacon (chopped) or 1/4pound sausage meat
2 ozs butter
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
Salt & Pepper
2 tbsp dried rubbed sage OR 2 tbsp fresh chopped
Saute the bacon/sausage meat in the butter, until it renders the fat out, add the chopped onions and celery and cook until sweated, stirring well..approx 15 mins.
Add the dried breadcrumbs and sage and stir well to coat.
Add 1 -1 /2 cups chicken stock and simmer gently to allow the liquid to reduce by 50%.
Add salt & pepper to taste, place in a butter 1 qt dish and bake uncovered 350F for 30 mins or until top is lightly browned.
remove from oven and serve with the bird.
This is better eaten hot..so it can be prepared (stored in fridge) then baked while the turkey/chicken is "resting"... before carving.
Bread sauce also a UK tradition with roasted birds
1/2 pint milk/ 1 1/2 cups
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs..use only white & not the crusts
2 tbsp butter
1/2 an onion(peeled),and studded with 3 whole cloves (the spice not garlic)
1 bay leaf
salt & white pepper
Place the clove studded onion in the milk and gently bring to boil.
Add the breadcrumbs and butter and simmer for 20 mins, uncovered.
It will thicken but should have the consistency of thick cream, dilute with extra milk or fresh cream.
remove from heat and remove the onion.
Season to taste and serve along side the gravy.
So now you have all the makings of a great Sunday Roast or maybe a special dinner