Sunday, April 21, 2013

Roast chicken dinner

I didn't post this yesterday because although I switched on my computer, once I had quickly checked that I had no urgent emails I had a burning desire to switch it off again and I did just that.  It has been challenging to keep up with posting every day (and that was the biggest part of the challenge for me so scheduling posts ahead of time was never part of my plan) simply because I don't really want to have to turn the computer on every single day.  But it's good to learn that I may not be as dependent on it as I thought at least.

Anyway, here's yesterday's A to Z post.  Then I'll be back shortly with a Sunday night chit-chat.  I also just noticed that yesterday's post was my 500th.  Doesn't seem like a lot in six and a half years of blogging but it's still a hell of a lot compared to any other diary I've ever tried to keep!

Here’s the instructions for cooking a roast chicken dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, carrot and peas and, most importantly, for how to have it all ready at the same time. My sister wrote this out for me many years ago when I first moved into my own place.  I don't do a full roast dinner very often so still need to have these on hand when I do and haven't managed to do much in the way of adding my own touches.  Bear in mind that these instructions were based on my sister's cooker, which was old but had fantastic controls. If you have a less decent cooker like me that doesn’t really do very low heat, for example, you’ll need to take that into account. Yes, I know that point should be obvious but I’m just saying – don’t blame me if you burn your spuds before you get to mashing!

First up, the recipe for sage and onion stuffing.  You will need:

  1. 1 onion, finely chopped 
  2. 10-12 chopped sage leaves or 1 tablespoon dried sage (do not overdo it on the sage
  3. 125g breadcrumbs 
  4. ½ teaspoon black pepper 
  5. 1 tablespoon melted butter 
  6. 1 egg yolk (optional. If not using, increase butter x 1, i.e. use 2 tbsps butter) 
Simmer onion in boiling water for 5 mins (NB: do it or onions will be horrible). Drain onions and throw out water. Put onion in mixing bowl, add dry ingredients and mix well. Add melted butter and egg. Mix well. Set aside.

And now for the main event.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Remove any coverings/wrap from chicken and don’t forget to check for giblets and remove (they are in cavity). Remove fat from just inside chicken. Do stuffing when bird already in roasting dish. Put most of stuffing into the neck skin and tuck under. Put rest just inside cavity (for crispiness). Pour over 250ml water and wrap foil over the chicken. Put in oven. 
  2. Peel and halve some potatoes. Allow 3 to 6 pieces each (depending on appetite and ability to resist roast potatoes). Boil until nearly done. Watch them or they fall apart. While they are doing, peel more potatoes for mash and peel and chop carrots. Leave these in saucepans, with enough water to cover.  When roasties are parboiled, take them out and place in buttered or oiled flat dish. Dot with butter and a good sprinkle of salt. Put aside. 
  3. After 30 minutes turn down chicken to 180. 
  4. After 2 hours check chicken by sticking a sharp knife into the thigh of the leg. If the juice that comes out is clear, the chicken is nearly ready. If it’s pink, just put it back for another 20 mins. At this point drain all the juice out of the roasting dish into a small pot. Top-up with COLD water, to set any grease for ease of removal. 
  5. Leave foil off chicken and put back in oven for about 15-20 minutes to brown. Put roasties into TOP of oven when chicken goes in to brown and when chicken comes out, turn up oven to 220 to crisp up roasties. NB Take chicken out of oven and cover up with the foil to keep warm while resting. 
  6. When you turn up oven, put veggies (potatoes and carrots) on at medium heat – between 3 and 4 (that was on my sister’s cooker, you’ll have to adjust for your own as necessary). 
  7. When veggies come to boil you can make the gravy. Heat up the chicken juice (which you have already removed the grease from) to hand hot. Make up bisto paste (we always used bisto and since I don't do roast dinners very often, I've never gotten around to doing real gravy but  feel free to use your own recipe for 'proper' gravy if you like) using ¾ teaspoon in ½ cup COLD water and pour into stock while stirring. Put back on full heat and bring to boil, stirring all the time. Take off heat quickly when it boils and leave to simmer. 
  8. Also simmer carrots when they boil. Spuds can stay around medium. Put water on to boil for frozen peas. 
  9. When spuds done, drain and leave on very low heat to dry them (I can't do this on my current cooker so I just put them on a trivet and put a clean teatowel over the top of the pot, which is something I head somewhere to keep your potatoes nice and floury - the towel keeps heat in but absorbs some of the steam so you don't end up with watery spuds or something is the theory). Add some salt and put ½ cup of milk into middle of hob to warm up. After about 5 mins, add butter to spuds and mash well. Add some (maybe not all, you judge) milk and whip up with a fork.
  10. Put peas into boiling water just before you mash spuds. Take roasties out of over and turn off oven. Stir gravy before serving. 
  11. Pile everything onto plates and enjoy! 
Here’s a 20 Steps shorthand version, too:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees (centigrade) 
  2. Make stuffing, set up chicken in foil 
  3. Put chicken in oven
  4. Peel spuds for roasting and par-boil 
  5. Turn oven down to 180 
  6. Put roasties into flat dish, etc. 
  7. Peel other vegetables 
  8. Check chicken after 2 hours cooking 
  9. Take juice off chicken 
  10. Take foil off chicken 
  11. Put roasties in top of oven 
  12. Take chicken out when brown and cover with foil 
  13. Turn oven up to 220 
  14. Put on vegetables 
  15. Make gravy and stir just before serving 
  16. Boil water for peas 
  17. Put on peas 
  18. Mash spuds 
  19. Take out roasties
  20. Pile on plates and eat


Fiona said...

This is fantastic...I am going to print it out! (I have my own version, but it seems more like pot-luck as to whether it works.)

Well done on the daily posting...have been enjoying reading along.

Anonymous said...

I love that you serve roasted potatoes and mashed potatoes! I have never served 2 different kinds but for this spud/carb loving girl that would be terrific!

Moonwaves said...

If you think that's bad, during the months when my mum was sick one of my aunts came to stay with us. She was a fabulous cook of the old-school variety and that was still the days of meat and two veg or some variation thereof. Only I didn't eat vegetables so for me it was meat and potatoes in some form or another. When she was cooking the dinner I'd often be in the kitchen keeping her company and once the spuds were boiled, she'd put a couple on a saucer with a bit of salt for me to eat BEFORE dinner. If it was a weekend and a full roast that meant I was having boiled potatoes and half an hour later sitting down to mash and roasted. It may be part of the reason I've never had any problem with the idea that the meat portion of your meal doesn't have to take up most of the plate - by the time I'd gotten through all the potatoes, there might not have been much room left for anything else!