This recipe is my addition to an awesome monthly gluten free recipe meme, Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free! – this month hosted by Carol over at Simply Gluten-Free, and the theme for this month is MANLY FOOD. Well, I don’t think anything can get more manly than a beautiful roast! And in my “waste-not” ways, I’ve figured out how to use the entire chicken for a variety of uses. This was my first roast bird, and it was quite the experience. But it was SO delectable, I wonder if I will ever see myself making chicken in any other way again. This was moist. And tender. And FLAVORFUL. Can you ask for anything more?
I’m not writing a specific recipe for how to roast this chicken (just the sage butter pesto), because it wasn’t a recipe, it was a process, haha. This whole post is that process.
This entire process was learned via a phone call with my mother, since it’s not like I have Thanksgiving dinner experience (ha, kinda hard for 2 newlywed grad students to host our huge families for Thanksgiving!). The first experience was prepping the bird. I purchased a whole bird from my grocery store (all natural antibiotic and hormone free, I know not as awesome as from a farmer’s market, but it was on sale and so I bought it a couple weeks ago and quickly stuck it in the freezer until this awesome date), and the first thing I noticed after I had thawed it and was ready to go, was that was there was no cavity to stuff the veggies. I called my mom and she said “well honey, you have to take out the bag of innards first” – ha well this chicken was natural enough there was no such bag. Thus began my mini anatomy lesson as I removed each organ from its original location to create the cavity to stuff my mirepoix (carrots, onion, celery) into. Good thing I don’t get grossed out easily!
Actually it was a good experience and I didn’t mind. Food doesn’t start off in a nice neat package. Food starts off as a living breathing form of life. I have no doubt that I ate an actual bird tonight, and not just some random thing called meat that comes in a shrink-wrapped styrofoam packing. It’s important to connect to your food. This is something that Michael Pollan espouses again and again in Omnivore’s Dilemma.
After that, I rinsed it to get all the blood etc. out, and then heavily salted the insides per my mother’s instructions. I stuffed it with veggies and was ready to lay it on the roasting pan. Wait, roasting pan? I don’t have one of those…turns out a cookie rack propped on top of my lasagna dish worked just fine – yay for ingenuity!
The next part was all me – I created a sage butter pesto to massage on to the chicken, stick under the skin, and into the main area with the veggies as well. I omitted the traditional cheese in this pesto, since I didn’t think that would work flavor wise or well in roasting.
Sage Butter Pesto for Roast
1/2 cup sage leaves
1/4 cup thyme leaves, stripped from stems
1/4 cup rosemary leaves, stripped from stems
3 tbs butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Fleur de sel (I have good French Gray Sea Salt)
Good cracked pepper
3 tbs. EVOO
Ok, now to roast. Stuck a meat thermometer into the bird (taking care to make sure it was in muscle tissue and not the place where the veggies were or any bone), and into the 325F oven it went. Better Homes and Gardens estimates about 1.5-2 hrs for a 4 lb. bird. Mine was 4.66 lbs and it really took 2.5-3. Maybe if I didn’t open up the oven door every 30 min it would have been less. But I had to – I basted this chicken with some of my homemade duck stock every 30 minutes. And while that may sound odd, to baste a chicken with duck stock, oh was it a good idea. Each time I would end up using about half a cup at a time, and I am convinced that is what kept the roast so moist.
Now what to do with this roast? Roast chicken is great because of 1.) how economical it is (I paid $7 for 4.66lb) and 2.)how many things you can make with roast chicken meat. After gorging myself fully enjoying some great dinner tonight, I plan on making with the leftovers a pesto chicken salad, and of course using the bones and the neck for making some awesome chicken stock. I also plan on freezing some of the chicken, and saving it for later use in a casserole. Not bad for one $7 bird!
By the way, when I carved this, I carved it with a fork. Yes my friends a FORK. That’s how tender it was, I didn’t even need a knife!