Friday, August 1, 2008

Everyone Likes Roast Chicken

Roast chicken is one of those fallback recipes that I would make at least once a week. Your approach can be as complicated or as basic as your life dictates, and regardless you are rewarded with a delicious dinner, and a house that smells of contentment and good things. My husband is also convinced that things cooked "on the bone" always taste better.

So how do you make a great roast chicken? The simplest version that I make is no more tricky than:

- Rinse medium-sized chicken under the tap, and dry with paper towel
- Pop it into a baking tin
- Give it a good sprinkle of pepper and salt
- Shove it into the oven for 1 hour at 200C (drop to 190C if you think the skin is getting too brown). Check it is cooked by piercing the thigh and looking for clear juices.
- Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes (or if you live in my house, serve straight away because everyone is too starving to wait a moment longer for dinner)
- Serve with whatever takes your fancy: vegetables, salad, potatoes rice
- NB no added oil, butter or anything else, and the chicken comes out with delicious skin and moist flesh.

But some days, I want to do something a little fancier, and this recipe delivers a great roast chicken and lovely vegetables as well. I found it when I was looking for the Sizzling Beef recipe in "Heart and Soul" by Kylie Kwong. The chicken is beautifully moist and tender, and the vegetables are delicious.

Kylie's "Radical" Roast Chicken
adapted from "Heart and Soul" by Kylie Kwong

1 x 1.5kg chicken (free range if available)
1/2 bunch tarragon
4 sprigs rosemary roughly chopped
100g unsalted butter (I used only about 25g)
1 whole garlic bulb
10 fresh bay leaves
1 tbl sea salt
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and cut into wedges
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
6 medium sized kipfler potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
5 small golden (aka french) shallots, unpeeled but cut in half
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch cracked white pepper

Preheat oven to 220C. Rinse chicken under cold water. Place chicken in roasting pan, breast side up. Place tarragon, and half of the rosemary inside the cavity. Using your hands carefully separate the skin from the meat over the breast and thighs (this is easier than it sounds - just slide your hands in between). Spread butter under the skin ( or lay very thin slices of butter).

Lightly crush garlic cloves and scatter over chicken with bay leaves, salt and remaining rosemary. Place carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes and shallots around the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.

Cover roasting tin with foil and roast for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce temperature to 180C. Take off foil and bake for a further 20-30 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through and vegetables are tender. To test the chicken, insert a skewer into the thigh and press against the meat. The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear. The chicken should be lightly browned. Remove chicken from oven, cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. (If you would like to brown up your vegetables a bit more, remove the chicken from the tin for resting and return the vegetables to either a hot oven or put them under the grill briefly.)

Remove the chicken from the tin and serve with the roast vegetables.

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