Last week whilst doing a cookery demo in a school I was asked what my signature dish is. I consider myself to be more of a baker than a cook but if I had to choose just one savoury dish to make it’d be a roast dinner. There is something wonderful and comforting about roast dinners and so often in the UK they are a symbol of a family coming together. Here we always have Yorkie puds no matter the meat and then there is the crispy roast potatoes, stuffing and a selection of veg. This weekend we had roasted beetroot and carrots.
This weekend we had a roast chicken for the first time in a while. Here I see chicken as a luxury. I try to only buy Packington Chicken because the birds are huge and that they taste so good. They are not the cheapest of birds (we’re talking £12 for a 2kg chicken) but the taste is superb and we get enough meat from the bird for about 10 dinners. I’d rather have great tasting, yet more expensive, chicken less often than tasteless chicken all the time.
I can be a creature of habit with some recipes, especially when it comes to roasting meat. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There is nothing worse than wasting good meat on a recipe that doesn’t turn out as well as your usual recipe. I first came across this idea for a recipe a few years back. It’s an old French recipe. There are various recipes around the net, but I decided to use my usual failsafe roast chicken recipe with a serious amount of garlic. 3 bulbs of gives about 40 cloves of garlic. It helps that I love garlic, but this really knocks chicken up to another level. The slow cooking of the garlic mellows it to produce a beautiful sweet paste than infuses into the chicken. Not only does it produce a delicious chicken it also makes the most amazing base for a gravy. Just add the drained water from your potatoes along with a spoonful of cornflour (if you prefer thicker gravy) and voilà you have a rocking roast dinner.
Whenever you roast meat it’s important to rest the meat as it helps the meat relax and all the juices that escaped the bird while cooking soak back into the meat. I usually let the meat rest for 30min, this also gives time for the temperature of the oven to be turned back up to crispen the roast potatoes.
While chief roast meat carver, Hubs, was fast asleep on the sofa with a fever I set about carving the chicken and I didn’t to too bad a job and I won the wish when we pulled the wish bone. Ah the medicinal benefits of chicken and shedloads of garlic.
40 Garlic Clove Chicken
rapeseed oil or olive oil
salt and pepper
1 lemon, sliced
1 leek, sliced
3 bulbs of garlic separated into cloves (don’t worry about peeling)
5 sprigs of thyme
125ml white wine
1) First place the chicken in a roasting tin then rub with rapeseed oil and season well with salt and pepper.
2) Place a 1/3 of the lemon and garlic inside the chicken cavity then scatter the remaining garlic, lemon, leek and thyme around the chicken.
3) Roast in the oven at 220°c for 20 minutes.
4) Pour the wine into the tin, turn down the oven to 180°c and roast the chicken for a further 45 minutes.
5) Once the chicken is cooked remove from the tin, wrap well in foil and leave to rest for a minimum of 15min before carving.
6) In the tin press the cooked garlic cloves until the paste squeezes out and stir this into the juices in the tin. Pass through a sieve and add to your gravy.