A ‘roast’ is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of traditional British food. It really is the corner stone of how our eating and cooking habits in the UK have developed over the centuries. A large piece of meat or bird was prepared and cooked on a Sunday and then leftover meat and vegetables were used up in varying forms of pie, soups, stews and stocks to feed the family for the remainder of the week. Chicken, is probably the most popular and most cost effective roast we love.
Here is a charming extract from Mrs Beeetons household management on roasting. ‘Roasting; This is the favourite British method of cooking The waste in roasting is great; from a third to a quarter of the total weight of a joint is lost, only a small part being recoverable in the gravy or dripping. Furthermore, it is a method only suited to the tender parts of meat, and does not answer at all for the less expensive, sinewy and gelatinous meat. Against this has to be off set the fact that roast meat is agreeable to most persons taste, and is generally digestible.’
So wherever you are in the world or wherever you’ve been most people I know will yearn to return to their mother’s kitchen for a Sunday roast. The evocative smells and warm fug from the oven, the clatter of plates and cutlery as the table is laid, no doubt some nursery pudding for afterwards. Its like a culinary hug.
Everyone seems to have their own ideas on how to roast a chicken so that it’s skin is crispy and the meat tender and juicy. Here are some basic rules that work for me. 1. Choose a medium sized, free range or organic bird. If your feeding lots of people get 2 chickens not 1 large one. 2. Remove the Pope’s/Parson’s nose, its a small gland that contains impurities. 3. Preheat the oven to 220 0C.
Roast ChickenPrint Recipe
- 1 Free range or Organic chicken approx 1.2-1.5kg in weight
- 2 onion
- 1 carrot
- 4 cloves of garlic (unpeeled)
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
- 50g butter
Remove the Pope's/Parson's nose
Season the inside of the bird with salt and pepper
Half one of the lemons and onions and insert into the cavity
Slice (thickly) the remaining onions and carrots and lemons
Place in a deep roasting pan with the garlic cloves (don't peel these)
Place the chicken on top of the vegetables
Spread the butter over the bird
Season with more salt and pepper
Place in a pre heated oven 220 oC for 15-20 mins.
Turn the heat down to 180 oC and baste the bird every 15 mins thereafter
Remove from the oven and leave to rest in the pan for 20-30 mins. Make sure it is in a warm place or cover with tin foil.
Remove the roasted chicken from the pan and the vegetables, leaving behind juices and sticky bits
Use this to make the gravy, serve the chicken with the roasted onions, carrots and lemons
To check the chicken is cooked when you lift it up the juices should run clear. Keep the bones and left over vegetables to make a rich stock or boil with ginger and chilli to make a spicy, asian style broth.