Sunday, January 17, 2010

Roast Chicken Dinner

I love a roast chicken dinner. It has to be one of my all-time favorite meals. Which is why its so silly that I have a fear about cooking it. I think my expectations are so high that it paralyzes me!
I have tried a number of different methods and I think I have finally found the one I'm going to stick with. I used Jamie Oliver's method from his new cookbook "Jamie's Food Revolution". I made roast chicken, roasted veggies and a damn good gravy! What was so great is that it came out perfectly and was relatively simple. I rinsed, dried and seasoned my chicken that morning...apparently improves the flavor.

Roast Chicken
serves 4-6

4 1/4 lb chicken, preferably free-range, organic
2 medium onions
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 head of garlic
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon
a small bunch of rosemary


Take your chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before it goes into the oven
• Preheat your oven to 475°F
• There’s no need to peel the vegetables – just give them a wash and roughly chop them
• Break the garlic bulb into cloves, leaving them unpeeled
• Pile all the veg and garlic into the middle of a large roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil
• Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper, rubbing it all over the bird
• Carefully prick the lemon all over, using the tip of a sharp knife (if you have a microwave, you could pop the lemon in these for 40 seconds at this point as this will really bring out the flavor)
• Put the lemon inside the chicken’s cavity, with the rosemary

To cook your chicken

• Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the roasting tray and put it into the preheated oven
• Turn the heat down immediately to 400°F and cook the chicken for 1 hour and 30 minutes
• If you’re doing roast potatoes and veggies, this is the time to crack on with them – get them into the oven for the last 45 minutes of cooking
• Baste the chicken halfway through cooking and if the veg look dry, add a splash of water to the tray to stop them burning
• When cooked, take the tray out of the oven and transfer the chicken to a board and cover with foil to rest for 15 minutes or so
• Now is the time to make your gravy



As well as your roasted veg from the roast chicken recipe, you’ll need:
1 heaped dessert spoon plain flour
a wine glass of white wine
1 liter chicken broth preferably organic


• When you come to make your gravy, your chicken will be covered and resting and you’ll have your tray of chicken juices and vegetable trivet in front of you
• Using a spoon, carefully remove 90 per cent of the hot fat from the tray by angling it away from yourself and scooping off the fatty layer that settles on top
• Put the pan back on the stove over a high heat
• Add the flour, stir it around and, holding the tray steady with a tea towel in one hand, use a potato masher to mash all the veg to a pulp – don’t worry if it’s lumpy
• You can rip the wings off the chicken and break them up into the tray to add more flavor at this point
• When everything is mixed and mashed up, add the alcohol to give a little fragrance before you add your stock (the alcohol will cook away)
• Keep it over the heat and let it boil for a few minutes
• Pour the stock into the tray, or add 1 liter of hot water • Bring everything in the pan to the boil, scraping all the goodness from the bottom of the pan as you go
• Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until you’ve achieved the gravy consistency you’re looking for

To serve your gravy
• Get yourself a large jug, bowl or pan and put a coarse sieve over it
• Pour your gravy through the sieve, using a ladle to really push all the goodness through
• Discard any veg or meat left behind
• At this point you’ve got a really cracking gravy, and you can either serve it straight away or put it back on the heat to simmer and thicken up
• Depending on which meat I’m serving it with, I’ll add a teaspoonful of horseradish, mustard, redcurrant jelly, cranberry, mint or apple sauce – you certainly don’t have to, but I think the little edge of complementary flavor you get from doing this is brilliant

Roasted Potatoes, Carrot and Parsnips
Serves 4-6
2.5 lbs potatoes
6 parsnips
6 carrots
1 bulb of garlic
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

• If you’re cooking these separately and not as with my perfect roast chicken, preheat your oven to 400°F
• Peel the vegetables and halve any larger ones lengthways
• Break the garlic bulb into cloves, leaving them unpeeled, and bash them slightly with the palm of your hand
• Pick the rosemary leaves from the woody stalks
• Put the potatoes and carrots into a large pan – you may need to use two – of salted, boiling water on a high heat and bring back to the boil
• Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then add the parsnips and cook for another 4 minutes
• Drain in a colander and allow to steam dry
• Take out the carrots and parsnips and put to one side
• Fluff up the potatoes in the colander by shaking it around a little – it’s important to ‘chuff them up’ like this if you want them to have all those lovely crispy bits when they’re cooked
• Put a large roasting tray over a medium heat and either add a few generous lugs of olive oil or carefully spoon a little of the fat from the meat you’re cooking
• Add the garlic and rosemary leaves
• Put the vegetables into the tray with a good pinch of salt and pepper and stir them around to coat them in the flavors
• Spread them out evenly into one layer – this is important, as you want them to roast, not steam as they will if you have them all on top of each other
-Put them in the oven 45 minutes before the roast chicken is done. After you take the chicken out, move the veggies to the top shelf to finish cooking for the last 15 minutes.

1 comment: said...

for some reason i am always afraid of a roast chicken too. i am always afraid of under or over cooking it. the juices run clear thing doesnt work for me. i'll have to try this recipe though it sounds really yummy! i love me a good gravy too:)