Friday, July 02, 2010
I have never cooked a whole chicken, you know... whole.
This adventure came about thanks to no other than Najwa Nasseri (get well soon superwoman!) who made it over and over again I lost count how many chickens actually ended up at her dining table after being stuffed with hot lemons. Laying down my chicken on the cutting board, head still on, I ended up saying a small prayer before chopping it off (something like what they do in Avatar while killing a hunt), half-vowing to be vegetarian in the action. Yes yes, I know the chicken is already dead and (probably, hopefully) at peace but still... Feeling slightly guilty, I gave it a really good massage before roasting, only to realize I had to ram a hot whole lemon up its behind. Sigh...
The recipe is ridiculously easy and yet produces a succulent, fragrant roast lined with crispy skinned potatoes, I actually wished there were more leftovers. We would do the roast during the weekends and attack the dark meat first. Reserved breast meat are put into salads, sandwiches and the latest... a quick pizza (though not over a pizza dough - I will work on that soon).
As Jamie suggests, give the chicken enough time to marinate in the fridge before roasting for the best results.
Roast Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary Roast Potatoes
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Serves 4 (or less if the guests are like Vijay and I)
I have made small additions to the recipe due to a previous purchase of a tube of sea salt with dried herbs which I used to marinated the chicken. A couple of other spices are also added when cooling the potatoes for more flavor. I also stabbed the lemon after it is stuffed into the chicken to ensure all the juices flow into the chicken instead of all over my cutting board.
- 1 2kg or 4 1/2lb free-range organic chicken
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (I used herbed sea salt)
- 2kg or 4 1/2lb potatoes, peeled (I didn't peel mine, we like our potato skins)
- 1 large, preferably unwaxed lemon
- 1 whole bulb of garlic, broken into cloves
- a handful of fresh thyme
- olive oil
- a handful of rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cumin (optional)
- 8 rashers of bacon (optional)
Rub the chicken inside and out with a generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper. Do this in the morning if possiblem then cover the chicken and leave in the fridge until you're ready to start cooking it for lunch or dinner. By doing this, you'll make the meat really tasty when cooked.
Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cut the potatoes into golf-ball-sized pieces, put them into the water with the whole lemon and the garlic cloves, and cook for about 12 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for 1 minute (this will give you crisper potatoes), then remove the lemon and garlic. Toss the potatoes in the pan while still hot so their outsides get chuffed up and fluffy - this will make them lovely and crispy when they roast (at this point I mix in the paprika, oregano and cumin).
While the lemon is still hot, carefully stab it about 10 times. Take the chicken out of the fridge, pat it with kitchen paper and rub it all over with olive oil. Push the garlic cloves, the whole lemon and the thyme into the cavity (I also stuff in a few sprigs of rosemary with leaves intact), then put the chicken into a roasting tray and cook in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Some lovely fat should have cooked out of it into the roasting tray, so toss the potatoes into this with the rosemary leaves.
Shake the tray around, then make a gap in the center of the potatoes and put the chicken back in. If using the bacon, lay them over the chicken breast and cook for a further 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are nice and golden. (You can tell the chicken is cooked when the thigh meat pulls easily away from the bone and the juices run clear.)
Remove the bacon and crumble it up over the potatoes. Remove the lemon and garlic from inside the chicken, squeeze all the garlic flesh out of the skin, mush it up and smear it all over the chicken. Discard the lemon and herbs. Carve the chicken at the table.
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