I go gaga for perfectly roasted poultry. Making a chicken is my Thanksgiving practice because it’s just too early in the year to cook a massive bird. Also, it’s way too hot out to heat up the whole house in the process. Roasting a smallish chicken is my Florida compromise. Besides, I still get gravy out of the deal. And, let’s be honest, that’s why we’re all here.
Last night, I smelled up the whole neighborhood with the aromas wafting from my kitchen. It was glorious. If only I could have eaten the air…
Now don’t click off this page when I tell you that after I rub down the chicken with kosher salt, rinse it, and pat it dry, I rub it with full-fat, glorious, mayonnaise. A lot of people use butter or olive oil, but year after year of every happy eater asking me how I keep the bird so moist with such a crisp skin, I’m willing to give credit to mayo. Not that I’m ashamed, because I’m not. I absolutely love the stuff. What’s more is that giving the bird a mayo rub removes the need for basting! What more do you need? Try it. I’m not pulling your leg. (No turkey pun intended.)
So, to make this chicken (or whatever poultry you like), regardless of size, you’ll need:
- Bird of some sort
- Full-fat mayonnaise
- Sea salt
- Black Pepper
- Granulated garlic
- Onion powder
- Two carrots, broken or cut into chunks
- 1/2 onion
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 bay leaf
First things, first, clean the bird. Discard any of the stuff that may be inside. If the neck is present, I roast it alongside the bird. You don’t have to do this. Rub it down, inside and out, with kosher salt and then rinse it. Then pat it dry.
Rub the entire outside with mayo. I used three tablespoons for my 4.5 lb chicken. It doesn’t have to be goopy, but you should have enough to make the spices stick.
Stuff the inside with the onion, carrot, garlic, and bay leaf.
Now get out your favorite lidded roasting pan with rack. Place the bird on the rack and put the lid on. Put the entire shebang in a 350 degree oven, and follow appropriate cooking times for the size of your bird. For my 4.5 pound untrussed chicken, I roasted it for one and a half hours. As you can see, it’s already starting to brown.
Once it’s nearly done, remove the lid, and crank up the heat to 450 degrees. Cook for an additional ten to fifteen minutes. The skin should crisp up and perfectly brown. Stay close by for this part as you don’t want it to burn. Yum. Yum. Yum.
While the roasting is happening, you can sauté the crimini mushrooms. Feel free to use button mushrooms if you can’t find the baby bellas (a.k.a crimini). I just quarter them and saute them with a bit of salt and pepper. Set them aside for gravy making.
Once it’s done and you’ve checked the internal temperature with a meat thermometer, let it rest for a couple of minutes. Then transfer it to a large cutting board (that you use for poultry) or platter.
Whatever you do, don’t discard the natural juice in the bottom of the pan! That’s pure gold and will become the best gravy you’ve ever had. I got about 1.5 cups of drippings from my size chicken. Once the pan is cool enough to touch, transfer the drippings to a sauce pan or large skillet. I poured mine through a mesh strainer to get the big chunks out.
Bring the liquid to a simmer. I added a cup of water to mine because I wanted to stretch it, but adding chicken stock or broth would work perfectly.
Prepare a cornstarch and water slurry. I used three tablespoons of cornstarch to 1/4 cup water. Mix it up and incorporate it into the simmering liquid. Give it a good stir and let it simmer for a couple of minutes on low.
The best thing about a cornstarch slurry is that it doesn’t clump when added to hot liquids. It also thickens without adding gluten. Now add the sautéed mushrooms, a few cracks of black pepper and a bit of salt if desired. I like to finish mine with a splash of milk or cream and a tablespoon of butter. You could skip the dairy if you want, but I really like the sheen and body that comes with the addition.
The one skill I’m really working on is cutting up poultry for serving. I cut mine into the eight standard pieces, but it wasn’t that pretty, so I forgot to photo it. 🙂 Prepare some wide egg noodles or gluten-free alternative, and serve this bird up with the gravy. You’ll have some happy people on your hands. Enjoy, everybody!