Friday, 27 December 2013

Roasting Poultry and Making Gravy

Roasting Poultry:

Special Tools:

A roaster and ideally a Trivet, which is simply a small rack which goes inside the roaster and underneath the poultry so it is raised from the bottom of the roaster. This helps promote even cooking. If you do not have a trivet on hand you can just use some extra stalks of celery to raise the poultry from the bottom.

Also some butchers twine or trussing pins might also be useful but they aren't needed


Poultry Seasoning Recipe
About 1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup butter
Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons Savory (Or thyme, or Rosemary, or Sage, or Marjoram)

If desired:
Stuffing/ Dressing

Or you can use the any of following ingredients to stuff the cavity for extra flavor
       1 small onion, sliced
       2 stalks celery, chopped
       1 small carrot, chopped
       A few Bay leaves
       Rosemary sprigs
       Thyme sprigs
        Lemon/ Ginger root

Also if you are roasting a smaller or really lean bird like partridge, you can use a brine to ensure the meat doesn't dry out.

Here are two I use. . .

Maple Brine
30 Minute Brine


All the pan drippings
1/2 Cup Flour
2-3 Tablespoons cold water
Few drops Gravy enhancer, like a darkener
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon onion powder
1/2 Teaspoon thyme
1 Teaspoon pepper


First let the poultry sit in the roaster on the counter for about 30 minutes to warm it up a bit so it isn't shocked the hot oven.

After 30 minutes, open the packaging and if applicable, remove the neck and bag of gizzards from the cavity. I keep the neck and either place it in the roasting pan to reduce down for making richer gravy, but I have no idea what to do with the gizzards so I throw those away.

 If I wanted organ meat I would get fresh stuff, as organ meat is more delicate and the freezing and rough packing of poultry make the bag of gizzards less than ideal choices for recipes. Well at least for the recipes I know of anyways. But, moving on.

If you plan on using a brine you can just use the brine time as the warm up time. Just open up the poultry, remove the neck and gizzards as describe above and continue with instructions: After the brine process, remove the chicken from the brine bucket and carefully move it to the roaster. Let it sit for a few minutes to drain and dry, then pour the brine drippings down the sink carefully.

In the mean time, prepare the stuffing/dressing if you are planning on using it to fill the poultry cavity, or prepare the other options for filling the cavity. Or don't bother and go plain Jane with the poultry.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place poultry, breast side up in the roasting pan either on a trivet or on celery stalks. With one hand hold the chicken up by a drumstick, and season inside with salt and pepper liberally, as well as one tablespoon of the savory (or other herb of your choice). Place the poultry carefully back into the roaster.

If you are stuffing the poultry, do so now. If you are using vegetables/lemon and ginger root/herbs, just stuff as much as will fit inside the cavity easily.  If you are using stuffing or dressing, use your hands to press the stuffing into small balls and begin by pushing the small balls one by one into the cavity beginning with filling towards the back of cavity and loosely filling back towards the opening. You need to leave a bit of room in the cavity when using stuffing or dressing as it will expand as it cooks, and no one wants a stuffing explosion in their oven.

Once the poultry is prepared, you can truss it. If you have poultry pins, use them to hold the cavity closed, and the legs close together. Also try and tuck the wings underneath the bird to keep them from overcooking. 

If you have butchers twine cut off about 2-3 feet length, and place the middle of the twine underneath the bird near where the wings are. Tuck the wings underneath the bird, and use the twine to hold in place as you wrap the twine around the Poultry, crossing over on the breast, going underneath the bird again, crossing and coming back towards the top of the bird, around the thigh. Use what is left of the twine to hold the drumsticks close together, tie with a simple knot and cut off the excess. Use a bit of aluminum foil to close off the cavity.

 Lightly dust the entire poultry body with flour, making sure that the entire surface has been lightly coated. Season with salt, pepper, and the last tablespoon of your herb of choice. Dot bits of the butter all over the entire top of the poultry. Pour water into the roasting pan until their is enough that the water is about 1/2 inch deep in the roaster.  If you want to and happen to have it, place in the neck in the roaster as well.

Place the roaster in the preheated oven and roast for about 25 minutes. After 25 minutes reduce heat to between 325°F- 350°F and remove the poultry from the oven to baste it. You can use a baster or a ladle or large spoon to do this. Baste the poultry well all over the entire surface. Return poultry to oven and roast for another 25-40 minutes. The larger the poultry the longer you can let it go between basting. For example I would baste something tiny like a partridge every 20-25 minutes, but a large poultry like turkey I would let go closer to 40 minutes between basting. Check the poultry with a meat thermometer during each basting. Taking note of how fast it is cooking and when it approaches being done.

If the skin of the poultry is beginning to get too dark, you can cover it with a layer of tin foil, which will help prevent further browning.

Once the poultry is cooked through, you can tell this by either using the meat thermometer, or with poultry usually once the legs are pretty much falling off the body when you gently tug them, the bird is cooked. I highly suggest a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh, or thickest part of the breast though for checking poultry. 

Once the poultry is cooked, Transfer it from the roaster to a carving platter. Cover with tin foil and allow to rest 10-20 minutes before carving. This allows the meat to relax and retain a better flavor and texture once carved.

While the poultry is resting, make the gravy

Papa's Pan Gravy

Using a fine sieve, strain the pan juices from the roasting pan into a large pot (or don't bother straining, my husband to be tells me my gravy doesn't have to be so smooth all the time). Add the gravy enhancer, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, thyme and pepper.

Heat the pan drippings over medium heat, until just beginning to boil. 

While the pan drippings are heating up, in a small water tight container, combine the water and flour and shake vigorously to mix. Shake well until the mixture is smooth and not lumpy. It should be pretty thick, but able to pour like a viscous liquid, like molasses. Add extra water if needed.

Reduce heat to low, and using a whisk, slowly pour the flour and water mixture into the just boiling pan drippings and whisk well. Once the Gravy begins to thicken, stop adding the flour mixture. Continue to stir the gravy. If after two minutes it isn't as thick as desired, add a little bit more of the flour mixture and whisk well. 

By now the poultry should be ready to carve, your gravy is ready and I hope your sides are as well. 



Google is a pretty magical tool these days, I have been keeping track of Google searches which lead people to my humble little recipe index, and I know I am a bit late for Christmas dinner, but it appears that some people need a little bit more information on how to roast a turkey or really any kind of poultry. So I will be kind and share my methods for setting up poultry and how to roast it. I learned this recipe from my mommy who learned from her father who learned from his mother. It has been tested and loved by many generations of my family and it results in a really nice finished roasted bird.

This recipe works well with most forms of poultry, except for waterfowl like ducks or geese. Turkey, chicken, partridge, pheasant, squab, etc are all good choices for roasting with this method. Ducks and geese need a little bit more attention before roasting as they have a lot of fat on the breast and it takes time to render properly.

So if you want to roast a turkey, chicken, partridge, pheasant or squab, follow these basic instructions. I will also leave some tips for extra special things you can do to switch this recipe up and really make it more your own.

Finally, many many roasting recipes call for you to rinse off the poultry and pat it dry with paper towels before cooking. I never do this. It can lead to a lot of contamination in your kitchen as water drips or splashes off the raw poultry. It isn't a necessary step and I suggest just not bothering.

Ps, Because I care, it takes about; 

  • An hour or a little longer to bake a potato in an oven set to poultry roasting temperature
  • 20 minutes to roast corn in the husk along with the poultry
  • Boiled and mashed potatoes take about 40-50 minutes when done on the stove
  • 3 minutes to make frozen corn niblets (1 cup frozen corn, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons butter, microwave 3 minutes, strain water and serve)
  •  40 minutes to make rice
So time your sides accordingly!

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