Not as dodgy as it sounds... hot on the chickens feet of our tremendously successful and jam-packed GAPS cooking demo last night I'm blogging this recipe. We made chicken stock, one of the backbone (sorry, can't help the puns, they just keep flying out of me) recipes of the GAPS diet. Naturally the essence of a good stock is really good, flavourful bones to go in the pot. When restaurants make their stocks they always roast the carcasses in the oven to get them nice and brown, so this stock is based on that, it's not a new idea, been around forever. This way of roasting a chicken gives you an instant gravy so you need no magic wand in the kitchen to make a really tasty 'jus' for your plate.
Of course the best chicken makes the best food so buy what you can afford, free-range at the least, Carlow Chickens are particularly good and what it costs in money is more than made up for in size and flavour.
Schtick your chicken, breast side down, on a decent sized roasting tray and surround it with a few (2-3) peeled and quartered onions, carrots and celery sticks as well as 4-5 peeled garlic cloves. If you have some duck fat rub it on the bird, if not, some good sea salt will do nicely. Cover the tray loosly with large tin foil, sealing it around the edges but not tight on the top so it doesn't stick to the skin. Roast this at 180degreesC for 1 hour 30 minutes. Take it out of the oven and leave it sit for a few minutes, remove the foil and pour off as much of the juices as you can into a small pot. This is your fully-flavoured gravy, taste it and see!
Return the chicken to the oven for a further 20-30 minutes until the skin is nice and golden and crispy. Turn the oven off and leave it sit for 15 minutes or so before carving. You can spoon the fat off the top of the gravy if you don't like an oily sauce. There isn't a huge volume of gravy but the flavour is so intense you don't really need a lot.
For your Stock
When you've cleaned the bones from the beast, clear off any veggies from the tray and put the tray on top of the hob, pour in some water and use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the tray until you have as much as you will get. A Jamaican women who taught me how to cook in Germany used to call the sticky tray bits the 'bon bon', which really means the sweets, or the best bits. When this is bubbling, pour it into a large pot, about 5 litres. Add in the remaining bones from the roast and some freshly peeled onions, carrots and celery (2 of each), a bay leaf and a few peppercorns as well as a teaspoon or so of sea salt. I've been putting a piece of kombu kelp in the pot recently as its said to draw more goodnes out and the stock always tastes great. Top up the water in the pot to nearly full and put it on to a boil. When it's boiling turn the heat doen to a simmer and leave it for 2-3 hours. You can drink this as a broth, it's incredibly soothing in cold, bad weather, not to mention a myriad of health benefits and anti-inflammatory properties. Strain the stock and discard the bones and veggie bits or let the cat and birds have thier share. Stock freezes well and is virtually free to make!!! What's not to love, and it makes cleaning the roasting tin very easy too x