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June 2, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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Roasting a chicken

food

I think most people could probably roast a chicken if they were forced, but there are a couple of tips that can make it better. The actual timing process of preparing a roast meal is often the most difficult part. Here is what I did to make a roast meal for my flatmates the other night. Do not worry too much about the exact vegetable quantities given (pp = per person)—they are just an indication of what a hungry student might eat. Any leftovers can be made into a roast vegetable salad the next day for with some feta and parsley tossed through it lunch. I roast a chicken breast-side down so that the breast meat doesn’t become too dry, and then I turn it over halfway through and blast the top to make it crispy. As always with chicken, keep your chopping boards and knives separate from the ones you use for vegetables, wash your hands etc. etc.

Ingredients:

For the meat

1 chicken (serves 3-4)
1 lemon
1 onion
4 chopped garlic cloves
2 rosemary sprigs

For the gravy

1 tbsp flour
Balsamic vinegar
Vegetables
2-3 small potatoes pp
1 carrot pp
1/6 small pumpkin pp
1/2 cup frozen peas pp
Generally: olive oil and salt and pepper

Preparation:

Turn your oven to 200°C. Peel your potatoes and chop into roughly even chunks (I like to chop a medium sized potato into three and a small potato into two—they will cook more evenly if uniform). Place these potatoes in a pot of cold water. Put these potatoes on to boil. Peel your carrots and chop into big thick coins. Once the water has started boiling take the potatoes off the heat. This is called parboiling and means that it won’t take hours for your potatoes to roast. Leave them in the water until they go into the roasting pan. Using a good knife, slice the skin away from the pumpkin (this is easier if the pumpkins are first cut up into at least quarters). Then chop the pumpkin into chunks about twice the size of your big thick carrot coins.

Assembly:

Take a large roasting tray. Put your potatoes in the tray and toss around in some olive oil, salt and pepper and about half of your chopped garlic and the rosemary leaves from one of the rosemary sprigs. In another ovenproof dish put the carrots and pumpkin with some olive oil and salt and pepper tossed in. Chop your lemon and onion in half. Put one half of the lemon in the fridge for the peas. Take your chicken and put it breast side down on top of the potatoes in the roasting dish. Put half the lemon and all of the onion inside the chicken. Draw the flappy skin bits together over the cavity and pierce them with the other rosemary sprig to hold it all together. Cut small slits in the chicken’s skin all over the body. Shove the rest of your chopped garlic in through the slits and under the skin. Drizzle a little olive oil over the chicken and season with salt and pepper.

Roasting:

Put the chicken and potatoes in the oven, along with the tray of carrots and pumpkin. After half an hour take the carrots and pumpkin out, ensuring they are soft by testing with a fork, and cover to keep warm. Then, get some tongs and turn the chicken over and amp up the oven to 220°C (on fan bake if you have it). Leave the chicken in for another 15–30 minutes (it is done when the juices between the thigh and the body run clear—if they run pink it needs more time). Depending on how big your chicken is the timing may vary—check on the back of the bag.

To finish:

Put a pot of water on to boil and take your peas out of the freezer. When the chicken is done put it on a chopping board to rest (it’s been busy!) Get a flatmate to set the table. Take out the potatoes from the roasting dish and put them into the carrot and pumpkin tray. Now, put the chicken roasting tray with all of its juices onto the stove over an element or flame and whisk in the flour and a good splash of balsamic vinegar. Voila! Gravy! Boil your peas until they are hot right through and serve them with a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper. Yum!

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