Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Can you put gravy on that? No? Send it back. I don't want it.

Ok loyal readers numbers one and two -- I was about to become a negligent blogger, but I thought of both of you, waiting with 'bated breath for another sad drawing and a new way to make a meal with only a dollar and a prayer, and I rolled over and began to type.

I make a roast chicken probably once a week, except for the year I was vegan and honestly that was just a little silly.  This week is no different. I live on a budget, and a roast chicken will meet my protein needs quite nicely while still affording me a little variety in my day to day diet.  I can have chicken salad, chicken in pasta, chicken over rice, chicken stir fry...you get it...a chicken extravaganza fit for a poultry mongering king!!!

Ok...but see the other day I needed chicken like a junkie needs a quick fix and I didn't have two hours to let it hang out in the oven and get all delicious and roasty.  So I took a great shortcut which
I will now pass along to you.  Butterflied chicken.  It basically means to cut it open and open it up like a book. I would show you pictures of the whole process, but I'm going to spare you the blood and guts methodology up close.

The simple procedure goes a little like this. Turn the chicken so it's basically standing up, with the breast side facing away from you.  You should be looking at the flat back of the chicken.  Right down the center of the back is the backbone - we're getting rid of it. Hold the chicken by the neck with one hand and with the other take a chef's knife and make a cut at the top of the neck to one side of the backbone and basically just cut straight down through the back ribs until you cut clean through the bottom of the chicken.  Use the same procedure for the other side of the backbone and set the backbone aside.  Then you have a chicken with no backbone...great. So now just open it up like a book, and flatten it out, you'll hear some crunching while you do this...it's ok to like it. You're going to want to make sure you crack the center breast bone as well so the chicken lays as flat as possible.  Yay you were your own butcher! If you're not quite reveling in the blood and sweat of this experience yet, you can also just ask your butcher to butterfly it for you, but I might be judging you a little.

Once you've butterflied you can season it any way you like.  I personally used the last of my vinaigrette from last week and mixed it with some soy sauce and a healthy dose of dijon mustard and schmeared it all over the skin side of the chicken and went to town.  As we remembered from the first roast chicken I blogged about so long ago, you have to season liberally.  So I made sure to thoroughly salt and pepper the inside and outside as well. When you put it in the oven just make sure it's skin side up, so that you can get the skin all brown and crispy.

The most amazing thing about this chicken though is that it cooks in about half the time.  A five pound chicken would normally take about two+ hours to roast, but butterflied will only take an hour.  Now I don't know about you, but I have a life and things to do and people to see and dvr'd television to watch (well mostly just the dvr'd television part if we're being honest) so an hour for a roast chicken is one of the simple time management pleasures that I will enjoy on a regular basis.

So an hour later my chicken is ready for consumption and normally I would just tear away, but today...today I'm feeling a little saucy.  Segue into sauces...GO!

So I made a quick chicken gravy from the drippings.  I LOVE GRAVY.  Biscuits and gravy, thanksgiving sandwiches smothered in leftover gravy, country ham and red eye gravy...I would honestly eat gravy off of most food items...and some non food items.  But seriously, what's with all this gravy is for special occasions BS?  I can have gravy on a Tuesday if I want, and if you're really opposed, I'm sure it is National something day somewhere in the world, so lets celebrate with GRAVY!.  Another amazing thing about gravy, is despite popular sentiments, it's very easy to make.

So if you really want a special homecooked meal that you can construct in an hour and change...you really should try...(clearly I need a drumroll here...so just gimme your best one...no one's watching you. do it)

I Clearly Took My Childhood Resentment Out On The Back Of This Poor Chicken Butterflied Roast Chicken


I Am An Adult Damnit, And I Can Eat Gravy Any Day Of The Week If I Please Chicken Gravy (recipe to follow)

First...preheat your oven to 400 Degrees F. If you don't do this now, you will be fussy later

Stuff you need for the chicken.

1 4 to 5lb chicken
1 T salt
1 tsp pepper
2 T dijon mustard
2 T reserved vinaigrette
1 T soy sauce

Butterfly the chicken by cutting out the backbone. Season the inside of the chicken with half the salt and pepper.  Turn the chicken over and lay flat in a baking dish so that the skin side is facing up.  Salt and pepper this side.  Combine the mustard, soy sauce and vinaigrette and liberally coat the skin side with the mixture.  Put it in your preheated oven and roast for one hour.  When the internal temperature at the thickest part of the thigh reaches 175 remove from oven and tent with aluminum foil. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

While you're resting...GRAVY!!!

Stuff to make gravy

3 tsp flour
3 tsp chicken fat from drippings (you can just drain off all drippings into a bowl and the fat will rise to the top)
Remaining drippings defatted (about 1/3 cp)
1/4 cp water (if I have chicken stock handy I'll use that...or apple cider, juice, wine...any delicious liquid...i was just out of groceries that day so I had to use water)
1 T mustard
Juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
1 T half and half or whole milk. 

Heat a skillet over medium heat (you can also just use the baking dish itself, then you have one less pan to clean)
Add the fat and flour and whisk to combine.  It should look like a blonde paste.  Cook it stirring constantly for about a minute.
Add remaining drippings and water and whisk to combine making sure you whisk out any lumps. When the gravy comes to a boil it will thicken. This will happen fast, so don't walk away from it.  Keep stirring, and once it looks like gravy add the mustard and lemon juice and whisk to combine.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat and stir in the half and half.  Serve over the chicken or anything else you can find that you can put gravy on.
So now I have chicken for the week, gravy for every day, I still have time to catch up on my shows, AND I wasn't a negligent blogger. I am the queen of multi-tasking and I will probably reward myself with a treat. See you tomorrow when I will probably be using gravy as salad dressing...nice.

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