One thing I’m enjoying about my adventure with colonial recipes is facing new challenges and new ways of cooking. This week’s recipe is for roasted chicken, something I do not do often. Turkey, yes. Chicken, not so much. So it was good to brush up on my chicken roasting skills! But not without a few hiccups. Let’s look at what Mrs. Glasse would have us do and then I’ll share what I did and didn’t agree with.
To roast a Fowl with Chesnuts
First take some chesnuts, roast them very carefully, so as not to burn them, take off the skin, and peel them, take about a dozen of them cut small, and bruise them in a mortar; par-boil the liver of the fowl, bruise it, cut about a quarter of a pound of ham or bacon, and pound it; them all together, with a good deal of parsley chopped small, a little sweet herbs, some mace, pepper, salt, and nutmeg; mix these together, and put into your fowl, and roast it. The best way of doing it is to tie the neck, and hang it up by the legs to roast with a string and baste it with butter. For sauce take the rest of the chesnuts peeled and skinned, put them into some good gravy, with a little white wine and thicken it with a piece of butter rolled in flour; then take up your fowl, lay it in the dish, and pour in the sauce. Garnish with lemon.
The very first hiccup was the chestnuts. In my area they are hard to find and when you do they are expensive. So I needed a substitute. A quick online search yielded the information I needed to make an informed choice, based on taste and texture. So I used almonds, which I had on hand and are also good for us.
My roasting chicken did not come with all of its parts, so I didn’t have nor want to use the liver. You may decide you’d like to have the liver in your stuffing, and that’s fine! My stuffing probably ended up a little skimpier than intended, but the flavors were there nonetheless.
Again, I omitted the mace and substituted nutmeg with ground ginger. I like the lighter flavor of the ginger even as it lends a slight bite to the taste of the chicken.
The other change I made was to add a bit of seasoning to the butter I used for basting the chicken. I use some form of garlic in almost everything I cook, so it was natural to add some garlic powder and Italian seasoning (which is mostly herbs) to the butter to brush over the chicken before popping it into the oven.
Here’s what I ended up with…
Betty’s Roasted Chicken with Almonds
1 whole, fresh roasting chicken
¼ cup fresh almonds, toasted and ground
2 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
¼ cup parsley
¼ cup Italian seasoning
½ Tablespoon Ginger, ground
2 T melted butter
Italian seasoning and garlic powder to taste
¼ cup gravy
2 oz. white winte
1 T butter rolled in flour
1 lemon, cut up for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place chicken in shallow roasting pan.
Toast and grind the almonds.
In a medium size bowl, combine bacon, half of ground nuts, parsley, Italian seasoning, pepper, and ginger. Put mixture into breast cavity of the chicken.
Combine melted butter with Italian seasoning and garlic powder and baste the chicken.
Put chicken in hot oven for 1½ hours or until done.
For the sauce, combine the gravy, wine, remaining nuts, and butter rolled in flour. Heat through until sauce is thickened.
Remove the chicken from the roasting pan and put on a serving dish. Garnish with lemon.
Pour sauce into a gravy boat or other serving dish and serve.
You’ll notice I did not pour the sauce over the chicken. I have two reasons for not following orders… First, the sauce is very rich. Second, I knew my hubby and I wouldn’t eat the entire chicken in one sitting, so reheating the chicken with the sauce would prove challenging. Leaving them separate allowed for us to control how much sauce we put on the chicken once it was on our plates. I liked the chicken roasted in this fashion, but I don’t think I’d do the sauce again.
While the dish looked pretty with the lemon garnish, a better use of the lemon might be to use the juice in the sauce to help cut some of the thick richness. I’m discovering that I’m finding most of the sauces too rich for my taste. I realize my preferences may not be yours, so feel free to play around with the recipes I’m sharing with you. That’s part of the fun of cooking, right? Making it your own?
What do you think about sauces? Fan or not?
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