Friday, January 6, 2012

Roast Turkey and Roast Chicken

Easy Roast Chicken

Roasting poultry the old-fashioned way in a large pan is very beautiful, but it takes a lot of basting, and it gets your oven greasy. One of modern technology's greatest inventions (okay perhaps a slight exaggeration) is the Oven Bag. It is a nifty way to cook a bird without the basting and without the mess. I love it. I made both of these birds that way. I accidentally ripped the skin on the chicken, but you can see in the turkey photo that I had a hard time keeping the bones in long enough to take a photograph. It was just that tender. It is a simple recipe, but a good one. Last year I showed my lovely friend Ashley, who was going back to college and moving into a meal-plan-free apartment, how to make this simple classic dinner.

Easy Roast Turkey

1 appropriately sized Oven Bag (mine are made by Reynolds)
1 Tbs. of flour (obviously omit if gluten free, I haven't found it  necessary but Reynolds recommends it)
1 fresh of fully thawed turkey or chicken (allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of bird)
Olive oil or butter
Salt and Pepper

Onion without skins (quartered)
Carrot peeled or well washed and chopped into large pieces
Celery washed well and chopped into large pieces
Mushrooms (any variety you wish) chopped into large pieces
Whole sprigs of thyme
Whole sprigs of rosemary
Whole cloves of garlic

All of the vegetables and herbs are very much whatever you prefer. Remember that what you use to flavor the bird will be the flavor of your gravy if you choose to make it with the drippings. If you want a lemony chicken, you might not be liking the sour gravy. That's why I bring it up. Really, you can put whatever you want. A quartered apple might be very nice and add a sweet aroma. Have fun with it!

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. If you have a large bird this might be easier with two people, I had my boyfriend, Adam, help me.

Rinse your bird thoroughly in cold water (remember to remove the pack of giblets and the neck from the cavity). If you have chosen to, put the flour in your bag and shake it around. Place the bird in the bag and start filling it with your chosen vegetables and herbs. Add them to the bad outside the bird also.

3. Brush the skin with oil or butter. With turkey I like to carefully slide my hand under the skin on the breast, rub it with butter, and place sage leaves in a pretty pattern. When the skin cooks the butter makes it crispy and the leaves show through. It makes the bird look more special. Salt and pepper the outside of the bird. Truss the legs together and tuck the wings under to allow for more even baking.

4. Zip the bag shut, poke a few holes in it, and follow baking time instructions for your size of bird. The USDA says that the thickest part of the inner thigh should be at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. I like my turkey a little more done so I wait until the thigh is around 175.

5. When the bird is done cooking take it out of the oven and leave it to sit! You can ruin a perfectly cooked bird by carving it immediately, you don't allow the juices to seep back into the meat and you get a dry and chewy bird. I let my turkey rest around 3 hours, but it was huge. It should still be warm but not not in any way hot. When it is done cooling you can remove it from the bag and carve it. I like to serve the vegetables that cooked with the turkey on the same platter. I think it is kind of pretty.

Poultry Gravy


Strained liquid from Oven Bag after roasting, fat skimmed off
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heavy cream
2 teaspoons (estimate) of Corn Starch/ Arrowroot Powder dissolved in a splash of cold water

1. Boil the cooking liquid with the starch liquid until it begins to thicken. Make sure the bottom of the pan doesn't scorch and that you continue to stir it.

2. Add a splash of heavy cream until you like the flavor and consistency.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remember, as the gravy cools it will continue to thicken. Don't get scared if it looks to thin. You don't want solid gravy jello when it cools.

As Jacques Pepin says, "Happy Cooking!"

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