Every seven to 10 days or so I roast a chicken. Sure, I know that prepared roast chickens are a dime a dozen (well not quite) and available in every supermarket and specialty food stores, etc. But “A,” I don’t know what the chickens are seasoned with and when and where they were actually prepared and simply prefer to prepare my own free-range chickens, and ” B,” whether I push a savory seasoning under the skin or not, I separate the skin from the chicken then, after a quick rinse, I place the chicken tented with plastic wrap on a rack over a platter and refrigerate for 24 hours. This assures a crisp skin when chicken roasts. The temperature is carefully watched to assure moist breast meat while the dark meat is cooked through.
To the victor belong the spoils. After the chicken is carved off the carcass and even the leg and thigh bones that are not served for that night’s meal, I gather all the bones and fat, and within a day or two, prepare a stock with a carrot and celery rib or two, a few parsley sprigs that are always hanging out in the vegetable drawer and simmer away for two to three hours and voilà, I have at about two quarts stock and it cost me nothing. A hearty winter soup or a toothsome risotto is the path I will take using the resulting broth.
With two cups of leftover cubed chicken meat, a chicken pot pie simply done with bought puff pastry will thoroughly satisfy with three to four more servings!
ROAST CHICKEN WITH HERBS AND SHALLOTS
Place the herb dressing under the skin and a bundle of herbs in the cavity of the chicken before roasting.
1 3 1/2 to 4 pound chicken
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves, garlic, finely chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs,
Italian flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, or any combination
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
A handful of whole sprigs of herbs, any of the above variety
1/2-cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
10 to 12 whole, peeled shallots
Preheat oven to 400°F.
1. Trim chicken of excess fat, remove giblets and any debris in cavity, etc. From the neck, carefully slide hand between skin and flesh of chicken, loosening the skin from the body to the upper thigh as well as possible. Rinse pieces and then pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the cavity with lemon juice, rubbing the excess on the skin and set aside.
2. In a bowl, mix garlic, chopped herbs, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon some of the herb mixture under the skin then carefully spread evenly, reaching over to the thigh as well as possible. Place a bundle of herbs in the cavity of the chicken. Truss the chicken with kitchen string.
3. Pour a film of oil in a roasting pan just large enough to hold the chicken and shallots. Heat the oil over medium heat and place chicken breast-side up in the pan. Cook slowly, turning each quarter carefully until lightly golden, about 5 minutes on each side or a total of 20 minutes. Add 1/4-cup stock, the wine and shallots to roasting pan and transfer to the oven. Roast 20 minutes, breast-side up. Turn breast-side down, baste and continue to roast another 15 minutes. Return chicken to breast-side up, baste with pan juices for 15 to 20 minutes longer. Test for doneness—breast meat should be firm when gently pressed, or should register 165 degrees with an instant thermometer when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh. Chicken should emerge moderately crispy with nut-brown skin. Transfer to a carving board.
4. Add remaining stock to roasting pan, place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Skim off fat that rises to the surface and add remaining 1/4-cup chicken stock. Simmer the natural jus to keep warm. Carve chicken into eight sections and serve with shallots and warm pan juices.
QUICK CHICKEN POT PIE
What better way to use leftover chicken for a hearty winter supper? The vegetables, such as carrots, onion and celery can come from roasting the chicken on a bed of same or leftover roasted root vegetables.
Serves 3 to 4
2 cups diced roasted chicken
1 to 1/2 cups cooked vegetables
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 rectangles frozen puff pastry, thawed for an hour or so
Preheat oven to 425°F.
1. Place chicken and vegetables in a mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Prepare the white sauce. Melt butter in a 2 to 3 quart saucepan and stir in the flour all at once. Cook the flour, stirring over low heat for 2 minutes. Do not allow it to clump. Add the broth and bring to the edge of a boil. Adjust heat to medium and stir until the mixture thickens, about 7 to 8 minutes. Season to taste and let cool. When cool add the chicken and vegetables.
3. Butter a 2-quart baking/serving dish and spoon in the chicken mixture. Cover the dish with the puff pastry to cover the mixture and brush pastry lightly with cold water. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until pastry is golden and crisp. Serve hot.