Wednesday 16 June 2010

Finger Licking Good.....

Roast chicken has to be one of the easiest meals to make and yet one of the most satisfying to eat. Sunday doesn't seem like Sunday if we don't have a roast chicken or sometimes a duck for a change. Not every Sunday these days, especially if it's not a full house. I think I've picked up hints from every food writer, cook and t.v. chef imaginable about how to cook a great chicken.

It starts with getting a really good one, the best you can afford. Of course Free Range because the other ones are just too cruel. Organic if you can afford it because then you know it's not been injected with any nasty chemicals. We'd rather only have chicken once a month but get a really good one and know that it's had a happy life.

Then it needs seasoning really well. Lots of cracked black pepper and some sea or rock salt. We like to roast it with lots of vegetables. Last night I used sweet peppers (capsicum), lots of cloves of garlic, small red onions cut in half and small potatoes. Which makes it almost a one-pot meal. Just wash the chicken and remove any excess fat and then place half a lemon in the cavity. Rub with olive oil and then season. I usually add rosemary and thyme sprigs from the garden but forgot last night.

Usually I use Nigella Lawson's tip to avoid dry chicken breast by turning it upside down in the roasting pan. It does squash the shape a little, but for me taste is more important than aesthetics. This way does result in really moist flavourful breast. All the juices run down instead of away from it and you get the lovely taste of the garlic and lemon, herbs and sweet peppers. If I do cook it breast-up, I separate the skin and meat and insert a mixture of butter or alternative, mixed with finely chopped herbs. This goes in-between the skin and meat, to baste the chicken whilst it's cooking.

Sometimes, like at Christmas time, I'll put rashers of bacon over the breast to keep the moisture in.

Cook the chicken in a moderate oven for one, to one and a half hours, depending on the size. Checking that it's cooked properly by inserting a skewer into the meat and making sure the juices are clear, with no sign of any blood.

I par-boil the potatoes first in salted water, then roast along with the chicken. This ensures that they are soft inside but nice and crispy on the outside. You need to keep an eye on the roasted vegetables, especially any sweet ones like peppers or parsnips. The sugar caramelises and can burn and get bitter. As can the garlic, which is why I leave the skin on to protect it.
You can always take any vegetables that are ready out of the roasting pan and put them in a serving dish with a lid. Then pop them back into the oven to keep warm, until everything is ready. just leave it all to cook. Meanwhile you can get on with any other vegetables.
Lovely roasted chicken...real comfort food.
Served with sauteed cabbage, baby spinach and lettuce leaves and drizzled with Balsamic vinegar and Pumpkin Seed Oil and sprinkled with sunflower seeds. Mmmmmmm....


  1. That's exactly how I cook my chicken! We had roast chicken last night but I made stuffing for it at Henry's request. We served it with cauliflower cheese, green beans and carrots that had been roasted with the chicken(free range of course). We followed it with Apple and Rhubarb (from our own garden)Crumble.

  2. Delicious, real comfort the rhubarb too, ours hasn't done very well this year......hope it'll be better next.....