Home Cook: Sharmini Jayawardena
This roast chicken with stuffing is to die for.
A five pound chicken serves four to five persons. Roasting a chicken is a simple and very easy way of cooking the bird and provides an extremely tasty meal or a number of meals.
Choosing the bird – Fresh free range chicken is best for roasting.
If you are opting for stored chicken store the bird in the fridge, carefully wrapped and away from other produce, for 1-2 days at the most.
2. Prepping the bird – Wash your hands and utensils carefully. Remove the packaging from the chicken and remove the giblets that comes wrapped up, from the abdominal cavity.
If the kidneys are still in the chicken, reach into the tail end of the abdominal cavity of the bird and remove them with your fingers.
Wash the bird thoroughly under running cold water. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. This will ensure a nice brown and crispy skin when roasted.
3. Now thoroughly rub sea salt or rock salt and freshly ground black pepper all over the chicken including under the skin where ever possible and inside the abdominal cavity.
Next, rub butter or olive oil on the entire chicken including the cavity.
4. Roasting the chicken does not take as much time as a turkey. However a large chicken could still take over 2 hours to roast. Therefore, a 5lb chicken will need to be roasted in the oven for at least 1 hour 50 minutes. A 5lb chicken will serve between 4 to 5 persons.
6. Trussing the chicken involves placing the bird with its wings closely tucked under the body in a shallow pan and by crossing the legs at the ends on top and tying them with a string. This will help to keep a good shape and also make it easy to carve later.
7. Place the chicken in a shallow pan on a bed of herbs such as basil, rosemary and thyme and fill the cavity with the stuffing. (The recipe will follow.)
8. Preheat the oven to a temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Centigrade for 30 minutes.
9. Set the oven to 446 degrees Fahrenheit or 230 degrees Centigrade and roast the bird at this high temperature for the first 10-15 minutes or the last 10-15 minutes. This surge of heat will result in a really crips and brown skin and deliciously succulent meat.
10. The table below is a guideline for roasting times for a chicken at 446 degrees Farenheit or 230 degrees Centigrade.
Metric. Imperial. Time
1kg – 1 1/2kg. 2 1/2 – 3lbs. 1 1/2 – 2 hrs
1 1/2 – 2kg. 3 1/2 – 4lbs. 1 3/4 – 2 1/4 hrs
2 kg – 2 1/2kg. 4 1/2 – 5lbs. 2 – 2 1/2 hrs
2 1/2 – 3kg. 5 – 6lbs. 2 1/4 – 2 3/4 hrs
11. Basting the chicken – Every 20 minutes you should remove the chicken and close the oven door, to keep the heat in. With a spoon or brush apply the fat and juices that have dripped in to the tin (drippings) on the bird.
Basting will keep the bird moist, stop the skin from burning and give the skin a really crisp skin.
12. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken’s thigh without touching the bone to ensure the bird is cooked. When done the thermometer will record a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit or 83 degrees Centigrade.
Sausage and Apple Stuffing
1lb or 450gms of pork or other sausage meat
3 peeled and chopped green (Granny Smith) apples
1 chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
4 cups of fresh bread crumbs
Freshly chopped parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large saucepan cook the sausage meat until it is browned, breaking the meat with a fork whilst cooking. Transfer the cooked meat into a large mixing bowl.
2. Drain away the meat juices and fat leaving 1/4 of a cup of the juice in the pan to fry the vegetables in.
3. Fry the chopped apples, celery and onions in the saucepan with the sausage meat drippings for about 10 minutes until the ingredients are fairly soft. (I also like to fry raisins and cashew nuts to add to the stuffing).
4. Remove from heat and add the sausage meat together with the bread crumbs, parsley and salt and pepper and mix the ingredients well.
5. Finally add the two eggs, mix thoroughly to bind and form the stuffing for use immediately.
6. Place the stuffing in the abdominal cavity and inside the skin around the bird’s neck and inside other lose skin. This should be done before trussing the bird.
7. Any leftover stuffing can be stir fried and set on the table along with the roast and gravy.
To make a Gravy
Once the roast is left to rest, make a rue by frying a little butter and flour in a pan stirring until lightly brown and then pour the fat and juices into the rue. This will give you a thickened gravy which needs to be checked for seasoning. Serve along with the roast in a sauce boat.
Some tips on roasting
1. Even if you don’t like to keep the skin on the chicken, you must keep the skin on throughout the roasting process. This is because the skin holds the moisture in the meat and keeps the fat out of the meat. If you remove the skin prior to roasting, which is a fete in itself, once the meat is cooked, it will be very dry.
You could remove the skin after the roasting is done.
2. The saved giblets can be used in numerous ways. In the stuffing, in soups, gravy or in delicious home made pate or even stir fried.
If you are using them later on, transfer them to the refrigerator immediately to be used within 2-3 days.
If you are using them in the stuffing wash and dice them into medium sized pieces and season and stir fry and set aside to add to the stuffing.
3. If the chicken starts to burn on the top while roasting, cover the top with aluminum foil to prevent burning.
4. Leftovers can be turned into salads, soups or sandwiches and even the carcass and bones won’t go to waste. They can be all used to prepare a delicious home made stock to be used in adding to stews and soups.
5. When properly cooked, remove the chicken from the oven and leave it to rest for 15-20 minutes on a carving board. This will allow the juices to settle.
Serve with your fave roasted vegetables like potatoes, carrots, apples, turnips, parsnips and celery.