A Practice Bird

As we gear up for Thanksgiving, which is next week (how did that happen?) I decided that it would be a good idea to get into the swing of things with a Starter Fowl in the form of a roasted chicken. I love a roast chicken because of all the possibilities, mainly leftovers and stock. The day after roasting a chicken I throw the carcass in a pot and clean out all the stray veggies in my produce bin  to make a few quarts of chicken stock which I will keep in the freezer for future soups. One bird, so many uses.

If you happen to have a rosemary plant or some other fresh herbs in the house this is an excellent place to use them. I had some fresh thyme leftover from another recipe to I put it to use here.

Its not absolutely necessary to truss the chicken. In fact I seem to be out of kitchen twine whenever I need it so I often don’t bother.

I bought a big bird (4.5 lbs) and invited some friends over for dinner last Sunday night. Roasting is pretty simple stuff and takes anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours depending on the chicken’s weight. Once its the oven you have a little time to fix your other dishes. My guests brought potatoes and wine, all I supplied was a green salad to make an easy casual dinner with friends


1-2 lemons depending on the size of your bird

salt and pepper

herbs (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Remove any gizzards and innards from the cavity, set aside to use in the stock. Rinse and pat dry inside and out. Slice the lemon in half and rub all over the inside and outside. Salt and pepper the cavity then put the lemons inside. Add herbs if you have them. Sometimes I put a few cloves of peeled garlic in there. Salt & pepper the outside. Place the chicken on a roasting rack in the middle of a shallow pan and fill the pan with an inch of water.

A 2 ½ lb chicken should cook for 1 ½  hours

A 3 ½ lb chicken should cook for 1 ¾ hours

A 4 lb chicken should cook for 2 hours

A 5-7 lb chicken should cook between 2 ½ and 3 hours,

Set the timer on the oven for the full amount of time. My 4.5lb bird roasted for 2 hours. If you have another timer set it for 20 minutes. You can usually use your cell phone if you don’t have another kitchen timer. Baste the chicken every 20. Add more water to the pan if necessary. Check for doneness when the juice runs clear after piercing the leg with the tip of a knife.

How’s it going in there?

Once you have remove all the meat from the bird, you can use the carcass to make stock. Put the carcass in a large pot cover with water. Add any or all of the following:

  • Gizzards
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Herbs
  • Lemon, halved
  • Dried herbs
  • Salt
  • 5 peppercorns (or ground pepper)

Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. Let simmer for up to 4 hours, the liquid should reduce. Drain with a strainer and cheesecloth into containers. Let cool before freezing.


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