If I don't know what to cook for dinner, I tend to fall back on roast chicken. It is easy, it is delicious and the leftovers make for killer sandwiches the next day. I also find the smell of roasting chicken incredibly comforting, and comforting is something I am valuing highly at the moment. Work continues on the rear of our house to repair the hideous termite damage we discovered a month or two ago, and we are all feeling a little despondent. Dust. Noise. Mess. Expense. Strange men in the house. More expense. More noise. More mess. Not fun. (If you are interested, take a look at the sad and sorry photo at the bottom of this post, showing a ruler sliding into one of our eaten beams).
So when Donna Hay sent me a roast chicken recipe to "make Mum's day" (I had fun writing that but it is not as exciting as you might imagine; I subscribe to her emails), I knew I had to give it a whirl. The recipe is very simple - just peel and slice potatoes and lemon, toss with oil, bake for half and hour, top with chicken marylands, bake for another 20-25 mins and you are done. I liked the recipe, but thought it could be improved on a little, at least for my family. The slices of potato that cooked next to the lemon came out too intensely flavoured for my kids, although the rest of the potato was gloriously tasty from the chicken drippings (I prefer the lemon inside the chicken cavity for more subtle flavouring). Also, the marylands weren't browned enough for my liking so I popped them under the grill for about a minute to give them something like the chicken equivalent of a spray-tan. A few days later, with Donna's original as the starting point, I decided to remake the recipe to my own taste, as a simpler comfort food version. It was really lovely, with the added bonus of the potatoes and carrots cooking together with the chicken, so most of the meal is cooked out of the one pan. Less washing up, plus an hour for doing other things while it all cooks, and the carrots and potatoes become incredibly tasty. (You can see pics of both attempts above.)
And if you feel like trying something a little more exotic, here is Kylie Kwong's Radical Roast Chicken.
Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
adapted from Donna Hay
1kg sebago (starchy) potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 carrots, peeled and cut into batons (or slices or whatever)
1 lemon, halved
2 tbls olive oil
1 whole chicken
sea salt flakes
Preheat oven to 200ºC. Place lemon inside the chicken cavity. Place potato, carrots and 2 tablespoons oil in a bowl and toss to coat. Layer in a dish and top with the chicken. Sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for 1 hour or until golden and cooked through (a large chicken may take 1 hr and 10 mins).
I served the chicken and vegetables with a green salad, and some corn (corn and chicken are a great match).
And here is part of our eaten walls, once the plasterboard was stripped off. I feel sad just looking at it.... ouch....