Friday, 13 September 2013

Pot-Roasted Chicken in Tomato-Sage Gravy

Brr... chilly for September, isn't it? My tomatoes have not been the best this year, between the rain and the cool weather.  Good enough for this, though, which is a good start to fall cooking - still using fresh tomatoes and herbs, but something slow cooking and filling to warm you up.

This is a pretty simple way to cook a chicken, but tomatoes and herbs make the sauce seem very rich and fancy. I used my favourite Persimmon tomatoes (which I don't even think I have written about yet!) They are a large, solid, orange tomato and gave the sauce a lovely golden colour. You can use whatever tomatoes you like or have, though.

6 to 8 servings
2 1/2 to 3 hours - 45 minutes prep time

a  2 to 3 kilo (4 to 6 pounds) chicken and its giblets, if available
2 - 3 shallots
2 - 3 large tomatoes
2 - 3 stalks of celery
1 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 tbsps flour
salt, if needed
sage leaves and a little oil to fry, OPTIONAL

Remove as much visible fat from the chicken as you possibly can. You can take a lot of the skin right off, if you like. This will save you from having to skim the juices for the gravy. Finely mince the giblets, always supposing they came with your chicken. If they didn't, oh well. Sucks to be your chicken.

Peel and chop the shallots. Wash, trim and chop the celery. Blanch, peel and chop the tomatoes. Put the veg in a large heavy-bottomed pot with the chicken stock, the giblets, and the chicken. First, though, stuff the bay leaves, sage, and rosemary into the chicken. Cover the pot.

The chicken can be cooked on top of the stove, over medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes per kilo. Turn it over halfway through the cooking time. If you prefer, you can instead cook it in the oven (for 45 minutes per kilo, at 350°F.) It is not necessary to turn the chicken over in this case, but it must go in a pot that can go into the oven, obviously.

Remove the cooked chicken to a serving plate, and cover it with foil while you make the gravy. Let it rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Strain the pan juices* and discard the giblets and vegetable pulp; press them to extract as much usable liquid as possible. Skim off the fat if there is too much. Put the flour in a saucepan, and slowly stir into it 2 cups of the pan juices, being sure that the flour is smoothly dissolved. Taste, and adjust the salt.

Cook the gravy over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.If you have much more than 2 cups of pan liquid when you make the gravy, you can thicken it all - just add another tablespoon and a half of flour per extra cup.

To garnish the chicken with sage leaves, pick 6 or 8 medium-sized leaves in good condition. Heat a little oil (just enough to cover the leaves) in as small a skillet as you have, and fry them over medium-high heat, a few at a time, until crisp and lightly browned.  Turn them half way through the process. Drain them on a paper towel, and arrange them as you like over the chicken.

I put the sauce and garnish over the whole chicken, then cut it up. It probably makes more sense to do it the other way. Cut it up and arrange it on the serving plate, then pour over the sauce and garnish.

*If you didn't have any giblets, you can instead just remove the herbs and purée the vegetables in a blender for a naturally thick sauce, although I would still thicken it with the flour. 

Last year at this time I made Tomatillo & Sausage Soup.

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