I wish this blog was in smell-o-vision because this roasted whole chicken smells magical. The flesh of this succulent “yard bird” is perfectly flavored by the lush herb butter. When teamed with roasted vegetables and homemade giblet gravy, you have a perfect Sunday roast to serve to your family and friends.
The first time I heard about Mary Berry I was in a cab with about a million groceries and was chatting to the female cab driver about how I love cooking and baking. She said, “You know you have to get a Mary Berry cookbook. Don’t you know of Mary Berry?!” She then proceeded to tell me how Mary Berry had the best cookbooks for all around family recipes and that I must go out and get one of them. Now this was at least 3 years ago and I was so busy trying to unload all my groceries I basically forgot about it.
Then The Great British Bake Off started airing on the BBC and Mary Berry was everywhere. I later learned that this woman was an institution with a great franchise of cookbooks. And man can she do some damage in the kitchen even at the young age of 70. The recipe for both the Roast Chicken and the Dauphinoise Potatoes (stay tuned as recipe to come later) are Mary Berry recipes featured in the August 2013 issue of the UK Good Housekeeping magazine. I’m a little obsessed with GH.
Anyhoo…The recipe below is adapted from the original as I have my own way of doing things, I’ve omitted some things and changed the measurements of others to suit my taste. I encourage you to do the same. If you’d like to view the original recipe click the following link: Good Housekeeping UK Roast Chicken with Herb Butter
I have to get on my soapbox here about chicken. Chickens when mass produced can be pumped full of hormones, chemicals and water to add weight. I’ve bought chicken a few times from a large chain supermarket here in the UK and in the last year their quality of meat has drastically decreased. I’ve stopped buying meat there because the last couple times I’ve bought chicken there it is filled with so much water that the chicken is left with no flavor, no toothsome texture and disappointingly little meat.
I find that though you pay a bit more for a free range chicken (and a bit more for organic as well) you get so much more meat and flavor. You also get the peace of mind that the chickens weren’t kept in cages, sitting in their own mess, never to roam in the sun. You get to eat a happy chicken who got to strut around and was well fed and therefore means you will be fed well, as will your family. I am lucky enough to have a great service here in the UK called Abel & Cole that delivers organic fruit and veg right to your door on a weekly basis. They also do lovely meat, poultry, bread, olive oil, and more! The pictures I’ve taken in this recipe are from a chicken I had delivered from their service and wonderfully they include the giblets. They don’t believe in waste and neither do I! I encourage you to visit your local butcher for your meat and poultry. It’s much better than supermarket chain meat. Okay stepping off my soapbox, let’s get cooking.
3.25-4 lb / 1.5-1.8 kg whole chicken (I prefer organic, free range chickens and if you can get the giblets included but not necessary)
1/4 cup / 60 g butter
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
1 tsp fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Couple of onions
Pre-prepared stuffing (Optional: I used a boxed stuffing but you can just stuff an onion in the cavity instead.)
Cornstarch (Corn flour in the UK) or All purpose flour (Optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F or 200 C.
2. Finely chop up your parsely, chives and thyme.
3. Add the herbs to your butter and season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. In a large roasting pan, add your giblets some carrots and a couple quartered onions. You can leave the skins on the onion as it will help give the giblet gravy a lovely golden color. Fill the bottom of the roasting pan with water about 2 cm deep.
5. Stuff your bird with prepared stuffing (like I did) or place an onion inside. Place a wire rack over the vegetables and gibets in the roasting pan and place your bird on top of the rack.
6. Truss the legs of the chicken with some cooking twine/string. It doesn’t matter how you do this, just that the legs are pulled together. This is also an optional step, I’ve made chickens loads of times and not trussed them. It just helps keep the stuffing in as it swells from the drippings.
7. Make sure the chicken is dry by patting with paper towels and then cover generously with the herb butter.
8. Place the bird in the oven and baste every 30 minutes. When the bird looks perfectly browned you can cover with foil to keep from going to dark. Roast the chicken for approximately for 1.25-2 hours depending on the size of your bird. You can find a good guide here for timings for your bird. If a knife is placed between the body and the leg only clear juices should run out. Make sure that the water/juices in the bottom of the pan never dry up, adding a bit more water if needed.
9. Remove your bird from the pan and allow to rest on a cutting board or serving dish.
10. Remove the vegetables from the tray and place in a serving dish and keep warm. Remove the giblets and throw away.
11. Place your roasting tray over a medium heat on the stovetop. Use a wire whisk to get all the flavorful bits that sometimes get stuck to the bottom of the pan.
12. Add a bit of cornstarch (corn flour in the UK) to the liquid. Start with a tablespoon and add a bit more at a time until you get your desired thickness. Or you can continue to simmer the liquid until it has reduced to your desired thickness. This can take some time and as I was in a hurry I used the cornstarch. You can also use flour instead of cornstarch though cornstarch tends to be easier to work with. Don’t worry if you get lumps we are going to strain the gravy in the next step. However, you can better avoid lumps by taking a tablespoon of cornstarch in a separate bowl and adding a bit of the cooking liquid to it at a time until it is fully incorporated and thinned and then adding that to the pan to make the gravy.
13. Set a seive over your gravy boat or a bowl and strain the gravy.
14. There will be some fat that begins to separate from the gravy. Strain off as much as possible with a spoon or by using a gravy separator.
15. Cut the string that was used to truss the bird and remove the stuffing and put in a separate bowl. Carve your chicken and serve with gravy, stuffing and veggies…and maybe some Dauphinoise Potatoes (recipe coming soon). Enjoy!