With colder air finally arriving my thoughts have turned to warm comforting foods. Last night I roasted a chicken for dinner.
Nothing fancy, just salt and pepper seasoning rubbed over and under the skin. I tucked a couple of cloves of garlic and a sprig of thyme under the skin for extra flavor. Then stuffed lemon, thyme, carrot, celery and onion in the cavity.
I wanted plenty of pan juices to make a light gravy from so I poured half a bottle of beer in the roasting pan. My four pound chicken was roasted at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for one and a half hours.
I let it cool for an hour before removing it from the roasting pan and carving it. I poured off the pan juices into a measuring cup and placed them in the freezer for about 20 minutes. After skimming the congealed fat off of the top, I had one cup of liquid gold to form the base for my gravy.
Easy Pan Gravy
1 cup pan juices from roasting meat, most of the fat removed
1 tablespoon potato starch (or cornstarch)
1-2 cups liquid (either chicken, beef or vegetable broth, or water)
Add salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg to taste
1 tablespoon freshly chopped herbs (optional)
Whisk potato starch into cooled pan juices in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then whisk in 1 to 2 cups of liquid to get your gravy to your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
Stir in one tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs if you like. Pick an herb or herbs that will compliment your meal.
While I used beer for my braising liquid in the bottom of my roasting pan, you could substitute water, wine, or any type of stock you have on hand.
Making Vegetable Broth
I have really taken to making vegetable broth every couple of weeks from vegetable scraps and trimmings. It’s a handy item to have on hand for sauces, soup or braising liquid.
As you accumulate vegetable trimmings, store them in a plastic bag in your freezer. When the bag gets full, empty it into a large stockpot. Add a little onion, a couple of garlic cloves and bay leaves and one tablespoon of whole peppercorns.Cover with water, bring to a boil and let simmer for 30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let cool for an hour before straining the vegetable stock and storing in the refrigerator (for up to one week) or the freezer (for up to one month).
If you are making vegetable stock for a specific dish, think ahead to what it will look like depending on the vegetables you use. If you add mushrooms and greens you’ll get a brown stock. For a lighter stock simply use light colored vegetables like onion, celery and carrot, potato with skin removed, corn or corn cobs.