It’s the perfect blog to post before Thanksgiving preparation begins. Right at this moment you might be panicking because you don’t have a roasting pan for your turkey, or because you have so many dishes, it’s hard to keep track of what you might need. In just our first class of Foundations Three, we learned how to handle all of these concerns.
The first thing we talked about in class was how to make a roasting pan for our chicken out of vegetables. We took carrots and onions and sliced the carrots into quarters, lengthwise and placed them in our deep sauté pan. We then quartered the onion as well and placed those pieces around the outside of our carrots. This created a spot to place our chicken because we did not have any roasting equipment.
I realized that many people probably don’t have a screen to place their chicken or turkey on even if they do have a roasting pan. This idea can help you save money as well as add additional flavorful to whatever you might be roasting. While our bird was in the oven on top of our mirepoix, we would place one to two ladlefuls of chicken stock on the mirepoix to ensure that it was not burning or sticking. If you did not have chicken stock, you could also substitute water and there would not be much of a difference. This stock and mirepoix, mixed with the juices from the cooked chicken would become a sauce for us when the chicken was done cooking.
Before we can use the roasting pan, we have to know how to truss our bird. Trussing is simply an attractive and effective way to hold your bird together during the roasting process. It also allows for a more even cooking surface because everything is very compact and tight. Chef Mike, our new Foundations Three chef, showed us how to truss our chicken, and that videos is below.
Once we had trussed our birds, we place them on our roasting pan and placed them in a 425* oven creating a very hot and dry environment for the skin to reach the nice golden brown color we were looking for. When adding the chicken stock or water to the pan, only put in about 1/4 of an inch. I mentioned in a previous blog about roasting that you want a very dry environment. Too much moisture will take away from the browning of the skin by creating steam and making the skin wet. This is what you want to avoid. A little bit of water will not ruin the browning but you always want to be aware of how much you’re putting in. We cooked the bird until we reached our nice brown color and when a meat thermometer stuck between the breast and the leg reaches 165* or higher.
The next step after you’ve roasted your chicken or turkey is to let it sit. Depending on the weight and size, you may have to let it sit up to an hour. For a small chicken like the one we made in class, you would only have to let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. The reason for this is to ensure that all the juice and flavorful that you just baked into the bird, stays inside and doesn’t go on to your cutting board. While you are letting your chicken sit, you can make your sauce or “jus”. Using tongs, hold you bird up with the cavity side down and let all the drippings as well as the garlic and thyme fall into the pan you were just roasting in. You are going to use each and every component to help you with this sauce.
Place the pan on the stove and start to reduce the chicken stock while always keeping the liquid moving. Add water or chicken stock twice and reduce it twice until you’ve reached a rich and creamy consistency. Wait to season with salt and pepper until the very end. After you’re reduced your sauce three times total, remove from the heat and slowly add in small piece of butter to help the sauce become rich and flavorful. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and before using, strain the sauce. Once you have had your bird resting for as long as you think necessary to ensure the most flavor, you can begin separating the chicken into pieces. Chef Mike gave us a great demonstration on how to make one of these small chickens, feed four people.
Do not put the sauce directly onto the pieces of chicken that you have worked so hard to make beautiful, place some of the sauce underneath the chicken or in a separate plate. I think you’re going to be really pleased with all of the flavors, and your guests or family are going to think they’ve been hit with the start treatment.
Another lesson taught to us on our first day was how to fabricate a whole uncooked chicken and the demonstration by Chef Mike is below. I hope a lot of these ideas will help you over the holiday seasons. Don’t forget to stay calm and remember to make lists. If you’re making three different recipes that call for onions, then cut them all at once. There’s no need to keep going back. Try to save yourself time and money by being organized about your planning. Check recipes to see if you can make things a day ahead or see how many things you can prep the night before.
The holidays are supposed to be about enjoying each other’s company and giving thanks for all that you have, but I think most people get overwhelmed by the cooking and the planning that they forget the most important things. And for all those people out there, who are unable to relinquish their control, learn to delegate. It will make your life that much easier, and in the kitchen, you can’t do everything yourself. You always need help, let yourself have a sous chef.
Have a wonderful weekend. For everyone who may have been wondering, I did get the job I applied for. Thank you for the positive thoughts. See you all next week.
How to Fragment a Whole Chicken