This post will be the first of a series called “My Favorite Dinner” which will feature other bloggers and friends. I am very excited about the upcoming posts to this series and am looking forward to seeing what other people like as a favorite for their dinners.
Since I will be kicking off this series with our favorite dinner, it seemed appropriate to do something unusual, exciting, or different considering how much I love to try new things. But after examining what really was my favorite dinner, I realized I was a little more down to earth and homey than I thought! While there are many meals we enjoy often, this is one that I come back to time and time again. In fact, I started doing dinners like this for my family before I was married. This dinner is fairly simple and straightforward, easy enough to make on a busy day at home, nice enough to serve to guests.
It would almost seem boring if it didn’t taste so good!
I vary the sides a lot for this dinner, sometimes I like to serve a potato dish, instead of rice. Other times I do steamed veggies on the side instead of the green salad. But it’s the roasted chicken and gravy that play center stage to this dinner. I will post how I do both in this post and in my next post will share how I make a Savory Carrot salad (very unlike the usual pineapple sweet one).
Roasted Chicken and Gravy
What I love about both making the chicken and the gravy is that I can use what I have on hand to flavor it. It can be as simple or as flavorful as I want. I will often just make it the simplest way, but sometimes it’s nice to add a little more punch, so I will give some variations as well. I almost hated to post these recipes because I know that people like their chicken and gravy made very differently, but then again, who doesn’t need another method of making a standard?
The optional lemon garlic and rosemary will add a delicate aroma to the meat.
One Whole, Roasting chicken (5-6 pounds)
A few tablespoons of butter, melted or olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 lemon (opt)
1 head of garlic, cut in half -yes, that’s right an entire head! (opt)
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary (opt)
Plus gravy ingredients, listed below.
Turn oven on to 375 degrees. Wash out your chicken, inside and out, and remove any giblets. Pat dry with paper towels and place in roasting pan (since I don’t have one, I just use a casserole dish), breast side up. Sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff with the optional lemon, garlic, and rosemary. Using a pastry brush, brush butter or oil liberally onto the breast, legs and any exposed skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper liberally.
Place in an oven and bake, uncovered for about 1 1/2 hours. The skin should be browned and crispy on the outside, and the juice should run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Serve carved with gravy.
Juicy Meat Variation 1: My husband likes his skin to be nice and crisp which is why I make it the above method. But before I got married, I would make this dish for my family. Their priority was how juicy the meat was. They didn’t eat skin, so they could care less if it got crispy or not. I would cook the meat covered in a clay baker instead and it was the juiciest meat I ever had! You could compromise between these two methods and cover the first hour and uncover the second half hour.
Juicy meat Variation 2: When I worked at a little cafe, we would roast the chicken breast side down on a roasting rack. This way the breast wouldn’t dry out, but remain more juicy. The skin on the back would get nice and crispy, just not the skin on the breast. You can also roast breast side down the first half of the cooking and then flip over. There are many ways to roast a chicken!
Gravy (Nourishing Traditions):
Carefully scrape out all of the browned chicken bits and chicken juice from your casserole dish into a pan on the stove top (or transfer the roasting pan, without the chicken, onto your stove top).
4 cups of chicken broth*
1/2 cup of dry white wine or vermouth
Bring to a boil and reduce to about one half. You can strain and then season as you like. I usually keep it simple by just seasoning with salt and pepper. This will NOT be a thick gravy.
You can also add cream, creme fraiche, sour cream, and fresh or dry herbs. You can thicken by mixing a few tablespoons of arrowroot powder with water and adding in a tablespoon at a time, pan over medium-high heat, until you reach the desired consistency. I have done all of these things with good success.
* I went ahead and posted the four cups of chicken broth, as called for in the Nourishing Traditions recipe. But I often like it with lot less broth and a little more wine. Something like one to two cups of broth to about 1/2 to 1 cup off wine added. This will make a stronger, more flavorful gravy, but will obviously not make as much, especially since you will still reduce it by half and so it may not stretch far enough for you needs. Play around with it.
In fact, one time my husband and I had some guests over and I didn’t have any extra broth. So I just added wine and seasoning to the chicken drippings and served that as our gravy. I wasn’t sure if they would like it or not, because I realized that most people thought of gravy as a very thick sauce, while this was very thin. It did, however, have great flavor. Later I heard that one of them had said it was the best gravy he ever had and his mother wanted the recipe! Simple isn’t always bad!