Roasts are a very old fashioned meal and one that a lot of people are afraid to attempt, but they are deserving of a come back, so I am going to show you a couple of tricks to help you get the most out of this very traditional, but very nourishing dish.
Doesn’t that look magnificent? And it was very delicious.
Okay, we are not going to do an ingredients list for this, we are just going to have a bit of a chat.
First, go preheat your oven to 210 degrees C, 220 degrees if your oven is not fan-forced, no, I am not crazy, off you go. Done? Right. Now let’s look at this chicken, this was only a wee little fellow, in fact, my uni friend Chloe (fellow chef) thought I was being fancy and roasting a spatchcock, it was 1.25kg, once I had pulled out the extra fat that had been jammed up its crevice to boost its weight (yes, processors do do that, make sure you check, you don’t need extra fat lumps in your chicken) and drained the water out of it I reckon it came in at about 1.2, so that is going to take about an hour to cook.
So what we really want is a baking dish that is just a little bigger than our chicken, this enamel dish is perfect. You can see on the side of the photo I have four trimmed garlic cloves, a lemon that has been quartered almost all the way through and half a dozen rosemary sticks.
Okay, do you see what I have done there? Let me explain. The rosemary lifts the chicken from the bottom of the pan so it does not stew in any juice that is released from the meat, it will also add flavour and fragrance while it is cooking and herbify up our gravy that we are going to make with the juices.
The lemon and the garlic I have shoved into the crevice, as far in as they will go, then I will pull those two flaps of skin back over the hole, as the chicken roasts at this very high heat the lemon will steam it from the inside, helping it to cook through and to become wonderfully moist and tender, the garlic will add flavour notes, if I had been able to find my butchers twine I would have tied its ankles together too, but I couldn’t so I didn’t.
Now we give it a good rub with olive oil, turn it bum up on the rosemary, dust it with salt and pepper and then into that very hot oven until it is starting to look golden, like this -
This took 30 minutes in my oven, at this weight, yours may be faster or slower, depending on the efficiency of your oven and the size of your bird, anyway, you want some nice colour and by now the fragrance should be starting to set off the cephalic phase of your digestion and driving you mad. Be strong, don’t snack, it will be worth the wait.
Okay, now flip it over, a dust of salt and pepper on top and back into the oven.
I just want to back track a bit here, once the chicken has gone into the oven initially I want you to start getting your veg ready. So cut your roast potatoes, I used kestrels here, trim your pumpkin and cut it into chunks, peel and quarter a brown onion, rub the whole lot with olive oil, dust with salt and pepper and pop that in next to the chicken.
Back to our chicken, we have put it back in the oven, breast side up, turn the heat up to 220 degrees C fan forced or 230 degrees C if not fan forced, yes, I am serious, we want a glorious golden skin with a moist inside, the best way to do that is with some serious heat and smaller cooking time.
While that is cooking prep the veg for steaming, I used carrot batons, snow peas and capsicum, and get your gravy fluid started, I used a half a chicken stock pod thing (like a concentrated chicken jelly pod, I do sometimes make them myself but this was a purchased one, you can use half a stock cube if you prefer), one tablespoon of tapioca starch and one large cup of water, mix all that into a slurry.
Right, my timer has gone off for one hour total, let’s have a look.
Well, that is looking very delicious and smelling glorious, but look in the crevice, and where I have pulled the leg away from the body, still showing a little pink, back into the oven for five minutes and then check it again. When you see no red or pink juices lift the chicken out onto a plate and cover it in foil, then wrap that in a tea towel and set it aside to rest while we sort the rest of it.
Scoop as much of the rosemary out of the roasting pan as you can and discard, pour in the slurry we made earlier and give it all a good stir, scratching at anything that is stuck to the pan, this will give us flavour. Back into the oven.
Pop the carrots in the top of a steamer, steam for three minutes, add the capsicum and snow peas, steam for one more minute.
Onto a large platter arrange your roasted veg, give your gravy a good stir while you have the oven open, add your steamed veg to the platter, unwrap your chicken and pop that on the platter as well, stir your gravy again, if it is not boiling fast enough for your liking you can finish it in a pot on top of the stove, adding any juices from the plate that the roasted chicken rested on.
Decant into a gravy boat or jug, pop that on the platter as well, and Stuart’s your uncle. Roasted chicken with gravy and veg. You’ve done it! Well done you!