Sometimes, during these days of imposed home isolation, I dream of the day I can once again invite friends and family, and serve them roast turkey with gravy and all the trimmings. I usually do this between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas but I think, now that I’m wistful for company, I’ll invite friends and family sooner than that—as soon as it’s safe to have get-togethers again.
Since I can’t cook turkey these days, I thought of a way to cook something like it—a roast “chirkey.” This is actually chicken, but roasted like I would roast a turkey, hence “chirkey.”
You can make this with just ordinary whole chicken (choose large), and a stick of butter, salt, onions, carrot and potato. Hopefully you would have chicken broth or chicken stock, too, to make the gravy. I used the Swanson chicken stock that comes in 32-ounce boxes which I happen to have in my cupboard. If you don’t have such, just use water.
It would be a blessing to have a can of cranberry sauce, too. That would make this seem like a real turkey feast. A good substitute is applesauce. When times get better and you can have access to a whole turkey (usually sold in the frozen food section of large supermarkets), you can reconfigure this recipe for turkey, adjusting the cooking time since turkey takes much longer to cook.
Meanwhile, try this recipe for chirkey. In these times of lockdown and uncertainty, it could bring a festive mood to the dining table.
For the chicken:1 whole chicken, preferably large size
½ c butter (1 stick), softened
2 small onions
1 carrot, cut into rounds
1 large potato, cut into cubes
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
Wash the chicken well and pat dry with paper towels. Slice the butter into two. Rub one half of the butter all over the chicken, massaging the chicken well to help tenderize the chicken, and so the butter flavors the chicken. Cut about four small cubes from the other half of the butter. Loosen the skin on the breast of the chicken, being careful not to break the skin. Insert the butter cubes through the loosened skin of the chicken.
Cut the remaining butter into cubes and insert inside the chicken. Season the chicken inside and out with salt. Cut one of the onions in half and insert both onion halves inside the chicken. Truss the chicken by tying the legs together with kitchen twine.
Spray the rack of a roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray. Position the chicken on the rack and arrange the rack in the roasting pan.
Cover the top of the chicken loosely in foil and roast in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the other onion into quarters. After 35 minutes, remove the foil from the chicken and add the onion quarters, carrots and potatoes to the roasting pan. Raise the temperature of the oven to 400ºF (200ºC) so the chicken browns. Return the chicken to the oven and continue roasting the chicken for about 30 more minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and fully cooked.
Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Let rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, make the gravy.
For the gravy:Drippings in the pan from the roasted chicken
4 c chicken broth or chicken stock (may use canned or those that come in large boxes) or water
¼ c plus two Tbsp butter
¼ c flour
To serve:Cranberry sauce (optional)
Remove the onions, carrots and potatoes from the roasting pan and set aside. Place the roasting pan on top of two burners and heat the burners on medium-low. Pour half of the chicken broth or chicken stock into the drippings in the pan and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits in the drippings. Stir to incorporate the liquid with the browned bits.
Add the remaining chicken stock and continue stirring until smooth. Strain the liquid into a glass measuring cup. You should have about four cups liquid.
In a large saucepan, melt the one-fourth cup butter then quickly add the flour. Stir the mixture together until it becomes like a paste. Pour the liquid in small quantities into the saucepan, making sure to incorporate the liquid well into the butter/flour paste before pouring the next quantity of liquid. This is so the gravy becomes smooth and not lumpy.
Continue pouring and stirring until all the liquid has been incorporated into the mixture. Let simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid becomes smooth and thickened. Then add the two tablespoons butter and stir well until the butter melts. Serve hot with the roast chicken.
To serve: Arrange the chicken on a serving platter. Arrange the carrots, onions and potatoes in another serving platter. Carve the chicken as desired and serve with the hot gravy and cranberry sauce.