Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chicken: Roast, Stock, & Gravy + Mashed Potatoes

Last year I featured a roasted chicken and chicken stock during my Eat Cheap For A Week Challenge, which also was during my pre-camera era. Since I'm responsible for bringing mashed potatoes and gravy to Thanksgiving every year, I thought this would be a great opportunity to update my recipes and share with you my easy made form scratch Thanksgiving dishes.

I think gravy made from scratch with real fat is the healthiest and most delicious. Not to be misunderstood, I do not mean 'healthy' as in low calories or the like, but as in healthy fats your body knows how to digest and use instead of storing it away in arteries or fat cells.

Since I'll be making my dishes ahead of time, I will not have any turkey fat available to make my gravy with. This is why the week before Thanksgiving, I'll roast a chicken and use both its carcass for broth and fat in my gravy; plus the chicken gets included in my meals for the week. I love being able to use the entire animal to ensure nothing goes to waste.

My dishes have a delicious depth of flavor from the organic, naturally raised chicken, especially since I include the fat. I do not have to use other fats or large amounts of seasonings as the chicken dishes are able to shine on their own. The homemade stock is my favorite since the taste is perfection and I can use it in so many other dishes. The homemade gravy also has a ton of flavor and is wonderful to use in not only the mashed potatoes, but over the meat dishes at Thanksgiving dinner as well. Plus, this is great practice for the turkey in case you're nervous about roasting a bird for the first time.
These recipes are simple and do all the work themselves. Plus you get all the credit for their deliciousness. Good luck with your Thanksgiving cooking!

Roasted Chicken

3.25 lb organic chicken
1 lemon
4 tbsp butter
kosher salt & fresh black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375*F. Wash the chicken thoroughly, inside and out, then allow to drain and rest for 10 min.

Place the chicken on a baking pan with a lip, breast side up, making sure the wings are tucked under, then put a lemon into the cavity.

Carefully massage 2 tbsp butter on each side of the chicken between the skin and breast meat without puncturing the skin. Rub it around really well, then rub your hands all over the chicken to spread around a thin layer of butter to help brown the skin and help the seasonings stick.

Liberally season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Cook the chicken for approximately 90 min (20 min per pound, plus 20 min). Remove from the oven and allow the chicken to rest for 30 min before carving.

How To Carve A Chicken

I like to start on the outside and work my way in. First, the drumsticks.

Using a sharp knife, make a cut on the top between the drumstick and the thigh until you reach the joint.

Using one hand, begin to gently lift up the drumstick while cutting horizontally into the joint.

Now the drumstick should be able to be lifted up to reveal the joint (my knife is just below the joint). Cut between the joint to remove the drumstick completely. 

Repeat with the other drumstick.

Now to remove the thigh, begin cutting between the center of the chicken and the thigh.

Begin pulling the thigh away from the body of the chicken, continuing your cut until the thigh is completely removed.

Repeat with the other thigh.

Remove both chicken wings, which I only use in the stock. They are easy to chop off, then set aside.

Now it's time to tackle the chicken breasts. 

I start by cutting the breasts in half down the length of the breast bone. 

Then, begin slowly cutting the breast away from the rib cage by keeping the blade next to the bones. Take your time and make sure you're cutting from top to bottom to ensure a clean cut.

Once the breast is cut away, slice through the skin and plate.

Repeat with the other breast.

I was able to harvest just under 3 lbs or 3 cups of chicken meat to use in recipes throughout the week (minus about 1/4 cup I shared with my dog while carving). I also removed all the skin to use in the stock.

Before starting the stock, strain the chicken fat from the roasting pan into a container through 2 layers of cheesecloth and set aside. This fat will be combined with the fat made in the chicken stock, and then used as the base of the gravy.

Chicken Stock

roasted chicken carcass
4 large celery, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
2 onion peels, roughly chopped
8 cups filtered water
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp coriander

Place the leftover chicken pieces into a very large pot over medium-high heat. 

Cover with the vegetables and spices.

Then add the filtered water. Allow to boil, then lower to a simmer and let cook for 4 hrs. Strain the stock into a tupperware and place in the refrigerator overnight. 

In the morning, skim off the fat that has floated to the top and add to the chicken fat saved from the roasting pan. 

Now store the chicken stock in the refrigerator or in the freezer until needed.

You can see how homemade stock is gelatinous from the collagen that cooks out from the chicken bones. You can't get this kind of nutrient dense stock from a can. Homemade stock is full of minerals, proteins, and amino acids the body needs to thrive. This stock will rapidly return to a liquid when heated while cooking.

Chicken Gravy

4 tbsp chicken fat
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups raw milk
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

In a wide pot over medium-low heat, add the chicken fat and flour to make a roux. Whisk together for 3-5 min until a light brown and thick.

Whisk in the chicken stock, then the raw milk to ensure no lumps form. Add the salt and pepper, then simmer for 20-25 min, stirring occasionally, until the gravy has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

~Yields 2 cups.

Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs Russet potatoes
1 stick butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp black pepper

Wash the potatoes well (I leave the skin on, but you're welcome to peel them).

Cut into 1/2" to 1" pieces and add to a huge pot over medium-high heat. Cover with water and allow to boil for 30 min. 

Drain the potatoes and add back to the pan. Mash the potatoes first. Then add the butter, buttermilk, and salt and pepper. Mash again until ingredients are combined. Taste to adjust seasonings if needed.

Heap on a pile of mashed potatoes and top with the homemade chicken gravy. Enjoy.

~Yields 10-12 servings.


  1. Very practical to roast a chicken early in the week to make your Thanksgiving stock and gravy. I always have the most trouble with the latter so I end up having my mother make it when she arrives on Thanksgiving Day.

    Everything you prepared looks delish!

  2. Wow! Love this post on the gravy! Never knew it could be so easy, and it's definitely great that you make use of the entire bird!