Monday, 29 November 2010
Lemon, Rosemary and Thyme Roast Chicken with Roast Potatoes
Roast chicken is a magnificent dinner dish at any time of year but especially on a cold, snowy night. The problem I often find with roast chicken, however, is that too many people over-complicate the roasting process. There is often too much emphasis placed on how to season the chicken, how and whether to stuff it and even how often to baste it. The preparation method I have used for this lemon, rosemary and thyme roasted chicken truly could not be much simpler and I hope to convince you that roasting a chicken need not be much more complicated than would have been boiling the egg from which it once hatched...
When roasting this chicken, I used simply the following:
1 4lb free range, organic chicken
1 whole, fresh lemon
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
While the oven preheated to 375F/190C/Gas mark 5, I submerged the lemon in a pot of boiling water, where I let it simmer for ten minutes. I put the rosemary and thyme on a dessert spoon, which I then carefully inserted in to the cavity of the chicken and gently shook it around, to disperse the herbs as evenly as possible. After ten minutes, I removed the lemon from the water with a fork and held it in place on a chopping board in this way while I carefully pierced it several times with another fork. I then put it in to the cavity of the chicken and the chicken on to a non-stick baking/roasting tray. Heating the lemon in this way has the effect of causing the juices to escape and steam heat the chicken from the outset of the cooking process. I then put the tray in to the oven - no salt, no butter, no oil - for twenty minutes per pound and twenty minutes over, in this instance one hour and forty minutes. I did not baste the chicken, nor open the oven at all while it was cooking.
The roast potatoes which I served with the chicken were roasted in the fat of the chicken but do require to be cooked beforehand. They are small, new potatoes, so I added them (washed but unpeeled) to some cold, salted water as soon as the chicken was in the oven and brought the water to a boil. I then reduced the heat to allow them to simmer for half an hour. They were then drained and submersed in cold water until a few minutes before the chicken was ready. This process serves to expand and then contract the flesh, leaving the skins easily removable by hand. This takes seconds per potato as it literally just slips off the flesh by rubbing it with your thumb and should be done immediately prior to removing the chicken from the oven, otherwise the potato flesh will start to go black.
When the chicken is removed from the oven, it must be left to rest. If you are not using the chicken fat to roast potatoes, simply leave the chicken in the roasting tray and cover that with foil. If you are using the tray and fat to roast your potatoes, transfer the chicken to a heated dish, cover it with foil for fifteen minutes and leave it alone. Add the potatoes to the fat, swirl them around and stick the tray back in to the oven for around fifteen minutes.
When the chicken has rested, you may wish to carve it in a traditional sense. I prefer not to, especially with such a small bird. I like to separate it in to breast fillets, legs and thighs and wings. I do this with a sharp carving knife by cutting through the skin and flesh and the leg/thigh and wing joints before pulling them free and serving them as a choice of chunky and enjoyable chicken pieces. The way I do this is pretty similar to the way in which I butcher a whole chicken.
The skinned potatoes will take about fifteen to twenty minutes to cook in the chicken fat, which is perfect timing for carving (in whatever form) and serving your chicken. The peas are frozen and were simply added to boiling water for a few minutes before being drained and served immediately.