Rich sauce bursting with flavour from stock base of aromatics, giblets, roasted meat juices and brandy. This Gluten-free recipe is thickened with Arrowroot.
Gravy is traditionally made by mixing the juices from roast meat with stock. The caramelised sugars from the roasted meat infuse the stock with a rich and intense flavour, and turn the liquid a deep brown colour – the telltale sign of a good gravy. However, the viscosity of gravy is almost as important as the depth of flavour. A serving of thin gravy will not cling to the meat and vegetables, and will simply run off to pool at the bottom of the plate. Gravy is thickened towards the end of cooking by stirring in a starchy paste which absorbs water. This is usually made from wheat flour, which must be cooked off first to remove the raw taste.
Arrowroot powder is harvested from a tuber plant, and makes an excellent gluten-free thickener. It is more or less flavourless, imparts an attractive glossiness to the finished sauce, and thickens below boiling point. The drawback to using arrowroot is that it is more sensitive to heat. If it is cooked at a high temperature, or for too long, then it will break down and lose its thickening properties. This means that arrowroot-thickened sauces cannot be reheated. Arrowroot powder should be added right at the end of cooking, and cannot be added straight into a hot liquid. It must first be whisked into a cold liquid to form a paste – typically 1 part arrowroot powder to 2 parts cold water. The hot liquid can then be poured over the paste, which will very quickly thicken the sauce. Around 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder (mixed with 2 tablespoons of cold water) are needed to thicken 1 cup / 240 ml of liquid.
- Whole Chicken
- Chicken neck, heart and gizzards, but not the bitter-tasting liver (if these giblets are included with the bird)
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 4 tablespoons cold water
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I used lard)
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 celery stick, sliced
- 1/2 onion, peeled and diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half lengthways
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 whole peppercorns
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 pint (570 ml) cold water
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/355°F. Arrange the chicken breast-side up in a flameproof roasting tin. Use kitchen scissors to snip off the wings – these will be used to flavour the gravy, as they do not yield much meat and will dry out in the oven. Massage a good glug of olive oil all over the chicken, then rub some salt and freshly ground black pepper into the skin. Transfer to the preheated oven and cook 20 minutes for each 450g / 1 lb, plus another 20 minutes (so a 1.8 kg / 4 lb bird should be cooked for 1 hour 40 minutes).
- Meanwhile, measure out the arrowroot powder into a wide-necked jug with a capacity of at least 1 pint / 570 ml. Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix to a smooth paste. Set aside for the arrowroot to absorb the water.
- Heat the cooking oil in a casserole / deep-sided saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the wing tips and giblets (if you have them), and fry until browned and caramelised – about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic, and fry until starting to brown – about 6-8 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan – add the brandy, and scrape off all the tasty browned bits from the bottom with a spatula. Let the alcohol burn off by leaving to bubble for a minute or so. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and add the remaining ingredients (bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme and water).
- Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Set the lid at a slight angle to create a small gap through which the steam can escape. Keep at a gentle simmer until the chicken in the oven is cooked.
- Once the chicken is cooked, transfer to a chopping board and leave to rest for 15 minutes, covered by a double layer of tin foil to keep warm. Pour off the fat from the roasting tray into a jam jar.
- Drain the stock from the casserole by pouring through a colander held over the roasting tray. Discard the vegetables and chicken pieces (or feed to a beloved pet).
- Heat the roasting tray over a medium heat, until the liquid starts to bubble. Cook for 5 minutes, scraping off any browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spatula. The colour of the gravy should darken at this point.
- Return to the arrowroot paste, giving it a good stir. Pour a ladleful of the hot gravy over the paste, whisking constantly. Add the rest of the gravy and whisk until blended.
- Pour the gravy into a saucepan. Heat over a high heat, whisking constantly, until the gravy suddenly thickens – about 30 – 60 seconds. Turn off the heat immediately (arrowroot breaks down and loses its thickening properties if it is cooked for too long).
- Pour into a gravy jug and serve hot, poured generously over roast chicken and vegetables.