Monday, August 1, 2011

Mr O's Roast Chicken

All my closest's know I have an aversion to touching a whole raw chicken.  Not sure exactly why...let's not get into it.  The other day I thought 'That's it! Time to conquer to roast chicken!'. So I bravely set off, bought a lovely free range bird and brought it home to look at. And look at.  I looked at it for a while trying to think calm thoughts about having to prep this birdie for dinner. I needed help, something inspiring that would chase the squirmy icked out feelings away. I remembered something about Jamie Oliver putting a lemon inside a chicken and as absurd as it sounded I just know he's on the money most of the time.  Best get googling.  Can I just say that the thought of touching a dead chook is no longer an issue when I know what deliciousness is coming my way! This is our new favourite for Sunday night dinners.

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary Roast Potatoes

1 x 2kg/4½lb free-range organic chicken
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2kg/4½lb potatoes, peeled
• 1 large, preferably unwaxed, lemon
• 1 whole bulb of garlic, broken into cloves (I peel them Mr O doesn't)
• a handful of fresh thyme
• olive oil
• a handful of fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
• optional: 8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

Rub the chicken inside and out with a generous amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Do this in the morning if possible, 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 190ºC/375ºF/gas 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 12 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for 1 minute (this will give you crispier 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.

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, 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 centre of the potatoes and put the chicken back in. If using the bacon, lay the rashers 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.)

Once I take the chicken out I like to drain the juices and fat and pop the potatoes back into the oven to 'dry off' a little and crisp up.  You'll want to watch them though.
I like to remove the bacon from the chicken and crumble it up over the potatoes. Heaven!

* I like to add a teaspoon or two of duck fat straight onto the potatoes once I've tossed them in the pan juices. Try it once and you'll do it every time!