When choosing a recipe to make, I often find myself objecting to some element of each one I read – an unpossessed ingredient, a step that I deem too fiddly – and move right along to the next one. Given the size of my cookbook library (not to mention the awesome power of the interwebs), this can lead to excessive time being lost before even getting to the kitchen. So the right course is often to pick and choose elements from each of them to arrive at a happy compromise – the option in the middle that is just right.
Yesterday’s problem was roast chicken, and my inspiration came from reading Laurie Colwin’s second compilation of cooking writing, More Home Cooking. Her idea is to roast the chicken relatively slowly but thoroughly, to the point where the joints separate easily, and the leg meat falls from the bone, and to roast some vegetables at the same time. Laurie Colwin prescribes over 3 hours of roasting at a low temperature – I didn’t have time for that, but I liked the idea of the end result.So I turned to a reliable standby: Marcella Hazan’s Roast Chicken with Two Lemons.
Marcella Hazan prescribes a pattern of temperatures that leads to a good, well-cooked bird, but also that your chicken is stuffed with 2 pierced lemons and the cavity sealed with a toothpick – and I didn’t want to fiddle that much. So I ended up with a compromise – and that was just right.
Roast chicken and vegetables
- 1 large organic chicken
- 5 or 6 medium potatoes
- 1 onion
- 4 medium carrots
- 1/2 lemon
- 6 cloves garlic
- small handful fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- olive oil, salt and pepper
Remove the chicken from the fridge at least an hour before you want to start cooking, to allow it to come towards room temperature. Pre-heat the oven to 180C (160C fan). Spread a little olive oil in a roasting tin. Remove any fat from the cavity, season inside the cavity with salt, and place the garlic cloves (unpeeled), thyme and half lemon in there. There now follows a series of roasting phases:
- Place the chicken breast side down and roast for 30 minutes.
- Turn the chicken breast-side up, baste it and add the peeled potatoes and onions to the pan. Roast for a further 30 minutes.
- Remove the chicken and add the carrots, peeled and halved, and baste again. Roast for a further 30 minutes.
- Turn up the oven to 210C (190C fan) for a final 20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken to a cutting board to rest. Toss the vegetables in the pan juices and return to the hot oven to brown for another 10 minutes.
Carve the chicken and serve with the roasted vegetables, plus a green vegetable such as green beans or broccoli. I served this with green beans from the garden, which are going great guns in all this rain.