I’ve no idea where I first heard that phrase, but it’s true. In our house anyway. Roast Chicken dinner is ALWAYS a winner. We usually get our chickens from our butcher. He knows exactly where they came from, and how they were reared. You really need to spend a little extra to get the best quality, for taste and ethical reasons.
As when you have good ingredients you really don’t have to do much more. Raw chicken, as we know, comes with it’s own health hazards. There is a school of thought around washing poultry in preparation, because of the splash, and the subsequent spread of food poisoning bacteria. I do not wash my poultry, but am still fanatical about cleaning up afterwards and making sure that there is no possibility of cross contamination. And I shall now remove my microbiology hat!
For the stuffing I slowly cook a finely diced onion in butter until its completely soft, then leave this to cool while I finely chop what herbs I have, and add enough breadcrumbs until it looks right! Very accurate I know.
I dry the bird with kitchen paper. Then remove the wishbone. This, we learnt in Ballymaloe, makes the bird easier to carve. Then season and stuff. I like to stuff the chicken but don’t pack it in tightly, simply leave it where it falls from the spoon to make sure the air can circulate in the cavity. If the bird is cooked straight away it is not necessary to wait until the stuffing is cold.
I drizzle a little olive oil over the top, then into a medium oven (approx.. 180oC), for 2 hours, if stuffed, 1 ½ hours if not. After about 30 minutes I add some peeled potatoes and maybe a parsnip, but that depends on the time of year.
If I’m in a hurry, I prepare potatoes for baking, but mash is my favourite, and if I’m really good for time, I’ll mash them through the ricer. Making sure to mash them when hot, with lots of seasoning and butter. Mash keeps quite well in a warm oven for a while, so can be done before you put on other vegetables.
The chicken does need to rest when it comes out, but this suits the chef as you can make the gravy. I like my chicken gravy very much, and will often make quite large quantities to heat with the left over chicken for a pie the following day.
Carrots and broccoli added to the colour and vegetable tally.
Perfect. With a glass of Brocard Petit Chablis.