I used to be (perhaps still am) a purveyor of the cheapest ingredient I can find. Sometimes, though, the age-old wisdom of "you get what you paid" is true. In this case, the most important ingredient in making a roast chicken is, well, the chicken. Get the best quality you can, a good quality chicken makes or breaks this dish. I can't stress this enough. The reason is simple. The only flavor you get from roasting the chicken is, again, the chicken itself, and therefore you want to start with a quality bird.
In this experiment, I followed the instructions of America's Test Kitchen's Weeknight Roast Chicken. I followed this recipe almost to the T because ATK claimed to have perfected this recipe.
Butcher's twine (or if you are like me who does not want to buy a roll of butcher's twine and rarely use it, then use a regular thread, you know, the kind you use to sew button on a shirt)
(that's all? You may ask. Yes!)
1. Turn on the oven to 450F.
2. Place an empty roasting pan or a large skillet in the oven. (will explain later)
3. Clean the chicken and pat it dry.
4. It is probably not a bad idea to let the chicken sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
5. Use your hand or a brush to apply a thin layer of cooking oil over the entire chicken.
6. Season the chicken generously with kosher salt and crushed pepper.
7. Place the chicken breast-side up, tuck the wings under the chicken and tie up the legs.
8. Remove the hot roasting pan/large skillet from the oven. Place the chicken, breast-side up, on the pan.
(As explained by America's Test Kitchen crew, putting the bird on a very hot pan gives the under-side of the chicken a head-start in cooking so that the whole bird will cook evenly)
9. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes (or up to internal breast temperature registers 120F).
10. Turn the oven off and let the chicken continue sitting in the oven for 30 minutes (until the internal breast temperature reaches 160F).
(This is the "ah-ha" moment that ensures a moist roast chicken)
11. Take the chicken out from the oven, let is rest and cool down for about 20 minutes before carving.
1. Transfer all the juice into a small bowl.
2. Remove majority of the fat.
3. Return the juice to a small sauce pan.
4. Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and a tiny splash of vinegar (adding vinegar is my own invention).
5. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
6. Slowly add cornstarch that has already been dissolved in water until the gravy reaches your desired consistency.
If heaven consist of two flavors, one sweet and one savory, the sweet flavor has to be Kaya, and the savory is this gravy.
Oh my word!! I have not tasted any roast chicken this moist and this flavorful on its own. Due to the quality of the chicken and the unique cooking method, this chicken is outstandingly tender. The little bit of salt and pepper is sufficient to brighten the flavor. The gravy? Superb beyond words. Pure flavor that you just can't compare to the "quick-mix" gravy. There is really no other way of making awesome gravy than to start with a roast chicken.
This dish is so easy, I am already thinking about making it again.