Lemon, rosemary & garlic roast chicken with taters
I had my 2nd taste of chicken in five years of vegequarianism last night. After much personal anguishing about whether I should support local, free range, organic, antibiotic & hormone free chicken, I finally decided that it would be more sensible to support those who are doing it well (If you’re in Christchurch and interested, I got mine from Westwood, which sells at the Christchurch Farmer’s Market, Farm’s Chicken, and I think Traiteur, obviously cheapest at the market). I’ll still only eat meat at most a few times a year, since the main reasons I decided to stop eating land animals were not just due to unsustainable, gross and cruel farming and/or slaughtering methods, but the excessive consumption of meat and the negative repercussions this had on society. Interestingly enough, what really made me think about it more was Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, a deeply passionate but not preachy book about factory farming, mostly in the US. Eventually I might try to find a butcher who stocks local, pasture based, etc etc lamb or steak, but for now I don’t feel freed from some sort of cruel vegetable induced grip or anything. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed abstaining from eating land-based animals and mostly will continue to do so. Maybe one day I’ll elaborate, but there are a lot of aspects to it so for now I’ll just share this fantabulous recipe from Jamie Oliver for roast chicken. If you are someone who eats meat very rarely, this is such a worthy way to do it!
Ok, the actual chicken looks a little terrible here because I cut into it and the photo was a bit of an afterthought, and I didn’t even get a picture of the potatoes. But this is Jamie Oliver we’re talking about here. The method is easy, the ingredients all natural, and the results, well, spectacular. Glorious. The way it’s cooked gives the chicken and potatoes a superb mildly lemony garlicky kick. It’s also good for something a little more fresh tasting – I’ve tried making Jamie’s regular gravy making chicken (didn’t manage to eat any, but it was apparently just grand), and the gravy making can be a little messy. This is pretty easy though, and involves potatoes that you can actually eat at the end of the whole baking process, as well as a gorgeous lemony garlicky sauce.
The recipe/method is pretty good, so I don’t think it needs repeating, but I will point out a few tips & suggestions for minimising waste:
- Absolutely rub salt (fine, not rock salt) and fresh ground black pepper on the morning of baking. It makes the skin super crispy and light. I’d probably also rub the skin with a peeled, crushed and halved garlic clove beforehand too.
- Squeeze the garlic out of the skins as Jamie suggests at the end, but then squish out the insides of the baked lemon and add a little hot water, some salt and pepper for an absolutely divine sauce. There’s not much of it, but it’s quite strong, so you only need a little. The lemon insides aren’t bitter at all after being cooked, and the extra tang is perfect with the richness of the chicken and roast garlic.
- Watch your potatoes, because if you’ve got them in rapidly boiling water, or cut them a little small, they’ll cook long before the 12 minutes.
- The potatoes would have done better with more cooking than indicated in the recipe, or at least they did for me. If this happens to you, take your chicken out when done and let it rest for ten minutes while the potatoes crispen up a little more in the oven (leave the heat on). You should let your chicken rest a little anyway before cutting into it apparently, it lets the liquids settle down and so the chicken doesn’t just dry out once you’ve cut it up. If you have the opposite problem, move the chicken to a different roasting dish and stick back in the oven, then take the potatoes out (make sure there are no pink juices on them). Either reheat them in the oven later when carving the chicken or serve as a starter.
- If you don’t use all the potatoes that night, mash them up the next morning and fry little cakes of it in some oil or butter as hash browns. Seriously do not waste these potatoes, it is a CRIME
- If you go the the effort of using fresh herbs and good chicken, don’t throw the chicken carcass out! Strip it clean afterwards to use the little chicken shreds in a sandwich (recipe coming!). Or use the carcass to make stock – to really make the most of the flavour in your roasting pan, scrape up the gunk (along with any leftover herbs) and throw into your stock. Just cover the carcass with water, simmer for about 30 minutes, taste, season with salt to taste, and strain. For extra flavour you can throw in any old sad looking carrots, a quartered onion and some celery or parsley. You can also reserve the water you used to boil the potatoes in (yes, the lemony, garlicky salty water…mmm) as the base for the stock. Brilliant, huh? Thank me later.
- If like me you think breast meat is a little dry, then save most of it for the next day for a chicken mayo sandwich. Will post the recipe for that soon with some rambling about the art of sandwich making :)
- Need help with carving? Jamie’s perfect roast chicken post has a bit at the bottom about how to go at it efficiently. Use a very very sharp, non serrated knife!