Sunday, October 21, 2007

SO TO WARM MYSELF UP...


A whole chicken can be a very good friend to you if you are on your own, although to buy one may seem, at first, extravagant. But you have a homely, hot meal for one day, cold meat to see you through the next two, or to make sandwiches with and I always use the carcass to make and freeze stock. The butcher still gives me a funny look when I ask for a whole chicken, as it is not an Italian habit to roast the whole bird: "You don't want it cut up at all?" he asks. "Well, you can cut off the head and feet but otherwise, no", I reply. The poor man always looks so disappointed, as though I have stopped him from showing off his art! My all-time favourite whole chicken recipe is here and this is my second favourite, which I have adapted from the excellent Elisabeth Luard:




Simple supper chicken
Put a chopped-up lemon, a halved onion and a bunch of fresh herbs of your choice [include a fresh bay leaf if you can] into the cavity of a chicken. Place the chicken upside-down in a roasting pan. Pour on 6 - 8 tablesp olive oil, about 5 finely chopped garlic cloves, some chopped fresh thyme, a little ground cumin and cinnamon, a little garam masala and some freshly ground black pepper and coarse seasalt. Roast the chicken at 180 C for at least 90 minutes, turning it the right way up after 45 minutes. Baste it as best you can at this point. Note: I don't bother trussing the chicken: the legs will be looser that way and at the end of cooking, the chicken should be ready to fall apart, making carving easy. You can use the hot juices to dress a bowl of salad leaves. Note: this is a totally unposh, unrefined dish!

I like to serve my spiced potatoes with this: Boil some unpeeled new potatoes, or unpeeled old ones chopped into large chunks, until just tender, then drain well. In a wok or other wide pan, melt a little unsalted butter and about 3 tablesp sunflower, groundnut or corn oil. When the oil sizzles, add spices of your choice: I find that cumin seeds marry well with potatoes, and also add a few mustard and fennel seeds, some ground chilli pepper, fresh, finely chopped ginger root and some crushed garlic. Stir the spices around for a minute or 2, then add the potatoes and keep stirring , over a low heat, for about 10 minutes. Add some coarse seasalt at the end. Garnish with chopped parsley or coriander leaves if you wish.

11 comments:

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

A whole chicken DOES seem a lot, yes.

I have this image of the butcher, sorry, but in my head he says 'You dontta wantta it cut up at all-ay?'

And shrugs his shoulders and wipes a tear from his eye...

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

You've been watching too many "Godfather" films, Crushed!

Winchester whisperer said...

I know Elizabeth Luard's son Caspar. His wife was the PA to Martha Stuart. (He's clearly used to being spoilt rotten!)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, WW. I really like her books and the way she has written about Francesca, and her husband too.

Winchester whisperer said...

That was a tragedy - what a nightmare!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, it was very sad. For anyone reading the comments who doesn't know, Elisabeth Luard's daughter, Francesca, was one of the first people to die of AIDS in Britain. Both EL and her journalist husband have written movingly on their coming to terms with this.

jmb said...

I haven't roasted a whole chicken in years. They are hardly ever in the store, mostly they sell small fryers which get too dry roasting. Everyone cuts them up into bits and cooks them like that.
I should try this recipe.

Lee said...

I'm salivating here! Thanks, Welsh! ;)

I'm cooking chicken schnitzels later. I always roast whole chickens, too or buy a whole barbecue chicken hot from the supermarket...no halves or quarters for me, thanks! A whole one is never too much, to my mind...as you say, many meals can come from one chicken. (not to mention the drooling looks from my two cats!)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, jmb. The whole chickens you get here are usually much bigger than those for sale in Britain. I think you could do this recipe using joints, as well. Hi, Lee. Glad it appeals. We thinb alike on this one! I am just visualising your cats...

The Ludingtonian said...

WC -

I've tried roasting whole chickens stuffed with lemons and I can't say I enjoyed the taste. Likewise when stuffed with just onions, let alone the legendary 40 cloves of garlic. Some months ago, however, I ended up stuffing the bird with both lemon and onion because they were what I had at hand. The result was spectacular - something about the combination of lemon and onion made all the difference in the world. I now use that lemon/onion combination regularly.

BTW, if you're interested in some other combinations, may I suggest Instapundit's Insta-chicken. The ingredients may not be immediately available in Sicily, but I promise you that if you can find them the result is nothing short of spectacular. I've made it several times and the reviews have always been positive.

Alternatively, there is Mimi's Sticky Chicken. This is something of a legend on t'internet. If you can spare 5 hours (!) to roast a bird, it too can be a great success.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Ciao, Ludlingtonian. I like chicken stuffed with lemon AND herbs or like this with lemon and onion. I also like the 40 cloves garlic! Thanks for the links - I will try both. I love roasting things slowly!

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