Start by roasting a chicken – check out How to Roast a Chicken if you’re just getting started.
After your chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165, let it rest in the pan (lightly covered with a lid or foil) for 5 or 10 minutes. After resting, use a meat fork to lift the chicken out of the pan and hold it over the pan to allow excess juices to flow back into the pan. Put the chicken on a cutting board. Put the pan over a high flame on your stove and bring the juices to a boil. As the juices are coming up to a boil, throw in a splash of white wine. The wine will help deglaze the pan, meaning you’ll extract more flavor by loosening up the cooked,crispy bits.
Allow the juices to boil for a few minutes to concentrate the flavor. Then turn the heat down to low. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine a tablespoon of cornstarch with cream,milk, wine or butter. This paste will thicken up your juices into a sauce. Choose your liquid based on what you have on hand or the flavor you want to add. My go-to is usually heavy cream because I prefer a creamier sauce and we nearly always have a bottle in the fridge.
Add your paste into the simmering juices and stir until well combined. Allow to come up to a low boil and cook for several minutes until the sauce is thickened to your liking. At this point, you can adjust the seasoning. Salt and pepper or dried herbs are great additions. Scoop the sauce into a boat or dish and serve over the meat.
ADVANCED PAN SAUCE FOR ROAST CHICKEN
Don’t let the “advanced” scare you, I just needed something to separate these! While the basic pan sauce method will yield a tasty topping, it’s incredibly easy to bump up the flavor of both the sauce and your roast chicken. Here’s how to do it:
FIRST – Gather a few carrots, half a white or yellow onion, a couple of stalks of celery and fresh herbs, if you’ve got them. I also use four or five mushroom caps for this. Going forward, we’re going to refer to the vegetables and herbs as the “Flavoring Agents”. Very roughly break the carrots in half and cut the onion into chunks. The goal is to make all of these vegetables small enough to fit into the bottom of the roasting pan but beyond that, you needn’t spend much time on prepping them. You can be creative here, too. If you like garlic, throw a few cloves in. Don’t like onion? Skip them.
Put the flavoring agents into the bottom of the roasting pan, aiming for a single layer. You might need to stack a few things to make them all fit, that’s fine. Try to get the onions in contact with the hot roasting pan bottom for maximum caramelizing.
Your flavoring agents hold the bird up slightly, which can be an advantage during roasting as it allows for more even cooking and crisper skin. The chicken juices drip onto the flavoring agents as the bird cooks and the flavoring agents release their own flavors into the drippings. By the time the chicken is done cooking, the drippings will be flavored by the onion, carrots, etc. This leads to a more complex and delicious pan sauce.
When the chicken hits 165 internally, let it rest in the pan for 5-10 minutes, covered loosely. Then remove the bird to the carving platter and use a slotted spoon to scoop out all of the flavoring agents. I save the cooked flavoring agents and use them in my chicken stock and I encourage you to do the same. With the flavoring agents removed, proceed as in the Basic Pan Sauce recipe.