One of the easiest Sunday lunch to make is roast chicken. There isn’t much to do except to rub the chicken with some butter or olive oil, salt and black pepper. Stuff a lemon into the cavity of the chicken, and put in the oven at 200C for about an hour, and that’s it.
If you want roast chicken with crispy skin, put it on a rack. But these days, I prefer tender meat more than crispy skin, and so I do without the rack. Some cookbook authors recommend placing the chicken on a rack, and pouring a cup of stock into the baking dish… but I never have chicken stock.
The tricky part really is in knowing when to take the chicken out of the oven, and how to adjust the heat. I ended with dried out roast chicken twice when I first used my new oven, but I have since learnt some lessons.
The easiest way to know if your chicken is done is to prick the thighs; if the juice runs clear, then it should be done. Leave the chicken to rest for about 20 minutes.
I make roast chicken intuitively now, but here’s the Nigella Lawson recipe I referred to when I started. I first thought that I could make roast chicken when I read her breezy description of how it’s such an easy staple to make. And her version is easy and fuss-free – no turning over the chicken midway through baking or glazing the chicken.
(Nigella Lawson _ How To Eat)
Lemon Roast Chicken
- 1 x 3lb 4oz (1.6kg) chicken
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon sea salt/½ tablespoon table salt
- 1 heaped tablespoon butter
- dribble olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220C)
Make sure your chicken is at room temperature, and cut off any string or rubber bands. Sit the chicken in a roasting pan. Put ½ the lemon into the chicken cavity, and sprinkle a little of the salt in there as well. Rub the butter over the skin and dribble with a little oil. Put into the oven and cook for 1¼ hours. Let the chicken rest in the roasting pan for 15 minutes, sprinkling over the remaining salt and squeezing over the other half of lemon while it sits, then move to a carving board.
Deglaze the roasting pan with a little water, letting the juices and caramelized bits from the roast chicken make a small-volume but intensely-flavored gravy to spoon over the carved bird.
Making roast chicken is also convenient because you can also cook side dishes such as potatoes and pumpkin with the chicken. I love roasted garlic, so I always throw in a cluster. After roasting, they taste nothing like garlic; they turn into a soft sweet candy.
Throw some carrots into the roasting pan too; they are yummy.
To roast potatoes, boil them first in salted water. Drain them when they are done. Then, place them in a bowl and drizzle with some olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. You can roast the potatoes in the same tray as the chicken. Do it Jamie Oliver style – put the chicken atop the potatoes, to allow the chicken juices to flavour them. Or you can roast the potatoes at the sides, or place them in a separate dish with more oil, to get more crispy potatoes.
Pumpkins have been really cheap lately, about RM1 each. And so I roasted some pumpkins with the chicken for a change. I love the roasted pumpkin, with its crunchy skin, and they are really sweet and caramelised. But I am the only one who eats them at home, and so I made soup with the leftovers.
The pumpkins are cooked in juices from the chicken, so they are full of flavours. Just place the deskinned roasted pumpkins in a pot, add two cups of milk and some water, and cook over medium heat. Add some roasted garlic if you like.
Use a hand blender to blitz the pumpkin. If you don’t own one, blend the roasted pumpkin before putting them into the pot. Adjust the liquids according to the consistency you like.
Season with salt and pepper, and remove from the pot once the soup starts to boil.
You can also make pumpkin soup by steaming or microwaving the pumpkin, but the flavours are less intense.
Here is a recipe for Roast Pumpkin Soup from Donna Hay, for a more ‘guaranteed’ results than my agak agak recipe above.
Roast Pumpkin Soup
2kg of pumpkins, cut into thin wedges, skin on
7 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
2 tablespoon of honey
sea salt and cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the pumpkin in a baking dish and bake for 45-55 minutes or until soft and golden.
Scrape the pumpkin from the skin. Place the flesh in a blender in two batches with 1 cup of the stock in each batch, and blnd until smooth. Place the pumpkin puree, remaining stock, mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Serve in bowls topped with sour cream or gruyere cheese.