Even though I absolutely love roast chicken, I’ve never made it for J. Why? Well, he prefers meat in slabs and doesn’t particularly care for skin or bones.
I’d been eyeing up this roast chicken recipe for quite a while, and I decided to make it for Christmas dinner, whether J liked it or not (I told him that I’d skin and slice the meat off the carcass for him). It had been far too many years, since the last time I enjoyed the succulence of a well-roasted chicken.
I adapted the recipe a little, by sitting the chicken on a bed of vegetables. The resulting dish was divine, there was very little I could do to improve it. The textures and flavors of this dish were immense, so much so, that I think it would send the average Joe’s taste-buds into a severe shock. The chicken was tender, moist and well-flavored throughout. The vegetables were delicious, with the fennel bringing out the ever-so-slight undertone of aniseed. I also made a Marsala sauce to go with the chicken, which married everything together well.
OLIVE OIL ROAST CHICKEN WITH MEDITERRANEAN VEGETABLES
Adapted from “Mediterranean: A Taste of the Sun” by Joanna Farrow
- 1.8-2.0 kg (4-4.5 lb) whole roasting chicken (weight is without giblets)
- 120 ml (½ c) olive oil
- ½ lemon
- Few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 900 g (2 lb) baby potatoes
- 1 aubergine (eggplant), topped and tailed, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and quartered
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered
- 8 large garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
- 2 large carrots, unpeeled, chopped into 5 cm (2 inch) chunks
- Fronds and outer skins of the fennel bulb
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- A mix of coarse sea salt, black pepper and roasted garlic flakes
- Smoked paprika
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F.
2. Place the carrots, onion and fronds of the fennel in the bottom of a roasting pan (large enough to accommodate the chicken).
3. Wash and pat dry the chicken inside and out. Then massage it with some of the olive oil. Generously season the bird inside and out with the paprika, salt, pepper and roasted garlic flakes. Massage for an additional 30 seconds – 1 minute. Place a few sprigs of thyme and the lemon in the cavity.
4. Put the chicken breast side down and roast in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken over, and turn the heat down to 375°F/190°C.
5. Cook for 15 minutes, then turn the chicken over, baste, then return to the oven.
6. Meanwhile, roll the potatoes and vegetables in the remaining oil and season with the salt, pepper, garlic mix and add a few thyme leaves, place onto a baking tray and into the oven. Allow to cook for 50 minutes – 1 hour, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking.
7. After 15 minutes, turn the chicken and baste again. Continue doing this until the chicken is cooked – about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Check the doneness by checking if the juices run clear (temperature, measured with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken should read 74°C/165°F).
8. Take the chicken out of the roasting pan and place into a warmed dish. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, with a piece of foil covering it to keep it warm.
9. Remove the vegetables from the juices in the pan, and skim the fat off – uses these juices to make the Marsala sauce (recipe below).
10. Either serve the chicken whole with the vegetables surrounding it, or joint the chicken for serving at the table. Enjoy!
This Marsala sauce was created as a back-up, just in case the roast chicken we had was bland and had no flavor. It was a great as an accompaniment, because it married all the flavors well. It was delicious, yet so simple to make. The trick is to use the juices from the pan from the roast chicken, deglazing it and then forming the sauce, and pouring it into a serving dish.
- 3 T olive oil
- 2 -3 small shallots, minced
- 1 T chopped garlic
- 225 g (½ lb) button/crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 T plain (all-purpose) flour
- 120 ml (½ c) Marsala wine
- 360 ml stock (I made mine using “Better than Bouillon”*)
- Salt and pepper
- Bay leaf
- Fresh thyme
- Knob of butter
* Better than bouillon is a concentrated paste, which you add water to, to make a stock. If this is not available, use stock cubes and water or ready-made stock.
1. Sauté the shallots, garlic and mushrooms in a pan with the oil.
2. Add the flour, stir and cook for 1 minute.
3. Deglaze the pan with the Marsala (and add any additional strained juices you may have if you’ve just roasted a chicken)
4. Add the bay leaf and thyme and cook the sauce until thickened.
5. Season to taste and melt in the knob of butter just before serving. Enjoy!