Posts Tagged ‘roast chicken’


Dinner Guests: Kathryn & Lucy’s roast chook

June 11, 2013

roast chook 2Like many bloggers, I often receive offers from companies or people wanting to contribute a guest post here. I almost always decline, because it’s usually someone trying to flog some crappy product or other, with boring writing to boot. But when the excellent and generous Kathryn Elliott of Limes & Lycopene got in touch about the beautiful quarterly magazine she produces with photographer Lucinda Dodds of Nourish MeAn Honest Kitchen – I jumped at the chance. Kathryn is a nutritionist who manages to write about food with generosity and heart. She understands that cooking and eating should be pleasurable, not punitive, and her recipes and advice are always fantastic. She has also been personally generous to me in all kinds of ways so I’m chuffed to have Kathryn & Lucy’s post here – specially as anyone who knows me will recognise that a good roast chook is one of the great joys of my cooking life. Here’s a way to make it just as good but a little better for fitting into one’s jeans. 

Roast dinners: a makeover

Roast dinners are one of those classic, hearty family meals. However we feel many people now hesitate to make this old favourite. Roasting a joint of meat leads to a lot of leftovers and if there’s only a few of you at home, then making good use of those leftovers can become tedious. No matter how good the original roast, nobody wants to still be eating leftovers four days later.

Plus there’s the health factor. The traditional roast, centred on a big joint of meat, with sides of potatoes, gravy and all the trimmings is a heavy, stodgy meal, one which can leave you feeling stuffed and lethargic at the end. If you’re trying to have healthy meals then avoiding the family roast may seem like a good idea.

However, in our latest issue of An Honest Kitchen we’ve taken on the challenge of making over a number of meals, including the traditional roast, because we think a roast dinner can be a good thing – simple to cook, manageable even if there’s only one or two of you at home and healthy. Our Makeover has fewer kilojoules, lots more vegetables and more fibre. It’s a better balanced meal with more nutrient complexity and variety than the traditional roast

roast chook 1How to makeover a roast dinner

In the course of our makeovers we developed a few guidelines which you could use to revamp your own favourite roast dinner:

  1. Use less meat: Rather than cooking a whole big joint of meat, choose a smaller cut with a bone in it. This will cook in a fraction of the normal time, but you’ll still end up with a juicy and flavour filled dinner. In our recipe below we’ve used chicken thighs on the bone.
  2. Don’t avoid potatoes: Roast potatoes are an integral part of the traditional roast and while the anti-carb movement has left them with a poor image, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of potato. It’s all about the size of the portion you eat and what else you put on your plate. Try to make the potato no more than a quarter of the space on your plate.
  3. Make sure you add LOTS of vegetables: Roasting is one of the best ways to cook vegetables. They are simply delicious and you can easily pack a variety of vegetables into the meal. We also avoid peeling and chop the veg into large chunks so there’s no fussy prep work required.
  4. Be careful with the fat: Traditionally a roast chicken is smeared with butter or another type of fat, which gives a crispy skin but is hell for the waistline. Instead we’ve actually skinned the chicken thighs and then added minimal fat in the cooking.
  5. Add flavour: Don’t be afraid to add unusual and strong flavours to your roast, the results can be spectacular. In our recipe below we’ve used Chinese five-spice powder, soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine to produce a roast with a difference. It’s still a roast and still delicious. This was a huge hit with our recipe testers and we’d love to share it with you.

Five Spice Roast Chicken

A twist on the normal roast chook. The whole meal is cooked on a baking tray, so you’ll either need one large tray, to fit all the ingredients, or spread them out over two smaller ones. Serves 2

  • 2 chicken thighs on the bone (about 400g)
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 400 – 450g potatoes
  • 2 red onions
  • 3 carrots
  • 200g green beans

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Remove the skin from the chicken: If your chicken thighs have skin on them, then it’s easy to remove. Take hold of the skin at one end and gently, but firmly, pull it away from the flesh. You may need to use a knife to help it along. Cut the chicken skin off, using a sharp knife.

Flavour the chicken: Slash the chicken pieces all over, with a knife.You can do this quite enthusiastically, as you want each piece to have several deep cuts on both sides. Place these on a large baking tray. In a small bowl, whisk together the five-spice powder, soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine. Pour the marinade over the chicken pieces and, using your hands, rub the mixture into the chicken pieces. Make sure you push the marinade into the cuts in the chicken and all around the bone. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the chicken. Roughly chop up the leftover lemon shell and add to the baking tray.

Add the potatoes: Cut each potato into chunks, about 4cm in size. Add these to the baking tray. Drizzle over the olive oil. Place the chicken and potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes.

Prep the vegetables: While the chicken is cooking, peel the red onion and cut each into 6 wedges. Scrub the carrots and cut into 2cm-ish chunks. Trim the beans.

Add the vegetables: After the chicken has been cooking for 20 minutes remove the baking tray from the oven. Turn each piece of chicken and potato over. Add the onion, carrots and green beans. Move them briefly and gently around in the five spice flavouring. Place the baking tray back in the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Let the chicken rest: Take the baking tray out of the oven. Gently remove the chicken to a plate, cover with tin foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Give the baking tray with the vegetables a quick wiggle, to spread the vegetables out and then place the baking tray back in the oven, while the meat is resting. After 10 minutes serve the chicken, together with the vegetables

Cooking Notes:

Chinese cooking wine is made from rice and is often called Chinese rice wine or Shaoxing Wine. Taste-wise it’s a similar to sherry, although it has a more bitter, stronger flavour. Some supermarkets stock Chinese cooking wine and it’s also available from Chinese grocers. You can buy Chinese rice wine in many grades and a brand at the cheaper end of the scale is fine for this meal.

Chinese five spice powder is a staple in Chinese cooking. It’s a mixture of five spices, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, sichuan pepper and fennel seeds and has a wonderful aromatic smell and manages to be sweet, sour, bitter and pungent, all at the same time. Five spice powder is available from the spice section of many supermarkets. It can also be purchased from Chinese grocers.

– Kathryn & Lucy

FrontCoverFor more ideas on making over the meals you love take a look at Kathryn & Lucy’s publication An Honest Kitchen: Makeovers. An Honest Kitchen is a regular publication all about real food that’s good for you. It costs $9.95 for 31 pages of beautifully photographed and punchy, nutritionally balanced recipes – in the very friendly PDF format. 

Each issue is full of simple recipes, practical cooking information and healthy eating advice. The latest edition, Makeovers, in which we revamp popular meals is available in e-format from 11 June.


Leftover largesse: from bland to bling

September 13, 2012

Roast chicken lawar

Whenever I’ve invited people over for dinner and then find I have ended up with almost no time to cook, I tend to fall back on an old favourite in this house – roast chook.

This happened on Tuesday evening. I’d invited six pals around, having forgotten that the plasterer was coming to fix the many cracks in our 120-year-old house. Which meant spending Monday getting allll the furniture and paintings and whatnot out of allll the rooms (except the kitchen, thankfully) while they did their thing – and then on Tuesday ridding the entire house (including kitchen!) of its fresh coating of plaster dust, and hauling all the stuff back into place. All while noticing along the way that my generally sluttish housewifery meant all our belongings were in fact covered with their own rich patina of dust and grime, so all that had to be cleaned as well. Lordy.

Despite the house looking like the above at 10am, we managed to get everything back to order by six o’clock and dinner was had and all was lovely (especially including Senor’s chocolate pots au creme from Neil Perry via our friend F! Divine).

Anyhoo,  as I erred on the side of too much food and roasted two chooks for eight people, this meant two roasted chook breasts waiting to be used in the fridge the next day.

What to do with leftover roast chook? Normally I just pick at it for lunches and whatnot, but this time wanted to try something different.

My brainwave was to revisit my lawar love affair of this time last year, following our beautiful holiday in Bali. And now I reckon this must be one of the most delicious and easy ways to use leftover chicken – because you can make a whole meal from it even if you only have a tiny bit of chook. We had lots, but if you didn’t all you would need to do is just increase the beans or other veg quantities and away you’d go. We’re thinking it might be very nice with beans and cashews or tofu cubes, actually …

Once again I used this SBS Food recipe as the starting point, but this time I doubled the paste quantity so I could keep some of that fab stuff in the freezer. I also added a whole bunch of coriander to the paste, and used one small red birdseye chilli instead of two big ones. As before, I dry-fried half a cupful of shredded coconut till brown.

Rather than going the trad mortar-and-pestle route, I whizzed the paste up in the food processor because I prefer pastes with lemongrass in them to be very smooth. Also I am bone idle as you know and can’t be bothered with all that pounding.

So, into the whizzer went the paste ingredients:

  • 1 birdseye chilli
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • a sizable knob of ginger (about 5cm lump)
  • ditto of fresh peeled galangal
  • a little finger of fresh turmeric
  • roots & leaves of 1 bunch coriander
  • 6 candlenuts
  • 4 roughly chopped lime leaves
  • 12 eschallots
  • 1 chopped stalk lemongrass
  • a couple of teaspoons of shrimp paste
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns (ground)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • juice 1 lime
  • juice ½ lemon
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • salt to taste
  • a few lugs of olive oil (vegetable oil if you wish to be more authentic)

After whizzing for a few minutes, it ended up as a very aromatic yellowish paste.

Next step was to fry off about four tablespoons of this – use as much or as little as you like, but it’s so delicious I say don’t skimp on the amount. I fried it for about six minutes, stirring now and then to stop it sticking, over a medium heat.

While that was going on I shredded the chicken breast meat and set it aside. The real recipe uses poached chicken mince, and you then use the chicken water to cook the beans in. But I just blanched the beans – about 2 cups of green beans, cut into 3cm lengths – in boiling salted water for a little over a minute.

Once the beans were just crisp and refreshed in cold water, I added them to the chicken with about ½ a cupful of thinly sliced red capsicum and the previously browned coconut.

Then I added the lawar paste and combined very thoroughly until all the chicken, beans and capsicum were well coated in the mix. At the end I added the roughly chopped coriander leaves and about a tablespoon of chopped mint, and served this with a wedge of lime on each plate for squeezing. You could serve it with rice, but the paste is so deliciously rich and thick we just ate it in a bowl on its own.

All in all, it was a damn fine dinner.  And it might have been extra good because of the satisfaction quotient involved in transforming quite ordinary leftovers into something much more special, which always feels a bit magical to me.

What about you – any good kitchen transubstantiation going on at your place lately?


Roast chook, the kitchen’s little black dress

July 26, 2009

roastchookRoast chicken, as you’ll know well, is the little black dress of the culinary repertoire. Simple, elegant, timeless and understated – but with a bit of bling it can be transformed into a truly spectacular performance.

I started musing on this today because I have some writing buds coming round tomorrow evening. We meet frequently to eat dinner together and take turns wailing about our work. They are all fine writers and fine cooks (in fact I think every writer I’ve met loves good food – is there a connection?), and the meal is central to our enjoyment of these evenings. But there’s also an unspoken rule that dinner is a simplish affair so as not to distract the cook from the natter, the real heart of the matter.

As I still haven’t got used to the joy of a generously sized and perfectly working oven (the old one had two temperatures – off, and 240 degrees C), I’m going with roast chook for tomorrow night’s dinner, prompted in part by Andrew McConnell’s great-looking chickybabe in yesterday’ s Good Weekendroast chicken with brussels sprouts and bread sauce.

This brings me back to the endless potential for blinging up little black dress – the fact that an LBD will go just as well with a teeny pair of diamond stud earrings as it does with one of those whopper seventies copper-enamel whirligig pendants.

So here is a short list of easy suggestions for roast chicken bling – but I want more! Do add your contributions, please … ( I’m very much hoping that Chefbro Hamish, who is sadly now almost totally blocked from chatting to us here by the great firewall of you-know-where but is presently holidaying in France, land of the free and greedy, might be able to pop in with some chook-bling suggestions of his own before returning to Shanghai.)

On & in the chook

  • Under the skin: butter with thyme, garlic & salt; or same with tarragon.
  • Under the skin from Neil Perry – compound of butter, garlic, coriander, parsley, cumin, lemon zest, saffron, salt.
  • Maggie Beer’s fabulous recipe here suggests whizzing  the under-skin butter in the food processor (not too much or butter will split) with chopped preserved lemon & tarragon. Of course she also adds verjuice towards the end, which helps moisten the chook – and see below for Maggie’s resting tip.
  • Stephanie Alexander says rub the chicky inside and out with lemon, crush 3 cloves garlic with the back of a knife, roll in salt & pepper and bung in the cavity with 2 lemon halves, rosemary sprig & butter.
  • Karen Martini advises a stuffing of bruschetta, porcini mushrooms, chicken liver & rosemary & check out Jules of Stonesoup’s adaptation of same.
  • In the chook’s cavity, says Skye Gyngell, stuff half a lemon, thyme, bay leaves, parsley, garlic, crumbled dried chilli.

Cooking the chook

  • Maggie says roast in a fan-forced oven at 170⁰C for 40 minutes, pour verjuice over and return to oven for 10 minutes or until cooked through (juices run clear from the thigh). If using a meat thermometer, it should read 68⁰C at the thigh.
  • Maggie’s all-time best chook tip, I reckon, is to rest the chicken in a warm place for 20 minutes turned on to its breast sideand Damien Pignolet repeats it in his book French: “Maggie Beer taught me this excellent technique, which allows the juices to circulate from the thighs into the breast, keeping it moist.”
  • Andrew McConnell (can’t find any online references but he runs Cutler & Co in Melbourne) in his Good Weekend recipe suggests smearing a 1.8kg bird with butter & salt, roasting it at 180⁰C, breast side down for 20 minutes, then reducing the heat to160⁰C, turning it over and continuing for 40 minutes or till cooked.

Sauces, accompaniments

  • In Rockpool, Neil Perry suggests simply tipping the chicken juices from the cavity into the pan, adding lemon juice and extra virgin oil, scraping the pan to loosen the crispy solids and chucking the lot over the whole bird (with garlic roasted in the same pan) at serving time.
  • Skye Gyngell serves pan-roasted chicken with braised lentils, roasted tomatoes, basil oil and a big blob of aioli  – and elsewhere Neil Perry serves pan-fried chicken breast with tzatziki.
  • From an issue of Delicious magazine years ago I have kept a Steve Manfredi bread & tarragon salsa recipe (it goes with an incredible slow-roasted lamb, but is fab with poultry too) – basically you just whizz up some day old bread soaked in lots of olive oil and red-wine vinegar with a couple of cloves of garlic and a bunch of tarragon, sale & pepper, adding more olive oil to loosen. It’s sharp and fragrant and delicioso.
  • I often throw some quartered fennel bulbs along with unpeeled garlic cloves & French shallots into the pan beneath the chook – they all go sticky and sweet but the fennel’s aniseed sharpness gives it a lift.
  • When we were in Puglia a couple of years back, one of the finest things we ate was a chicken simply roasted on a rack over a tray of potatoes, which catch the chickeny drippings and are soft and flavoursome as anything. I have never, ever, ever eaten chicken as good as that – in Australia even the best chooks are a poor substitute but it’s still worth a crack if you get a really good chook. While you rest the chicken, whack the oven heat up to a zillion and blast the hell out of the potatoes. It’s good.
  • Yesterday’s Good Weekend Andrew McConnell bread sauce – bring half a litre of milk  to a simer with a couple of cloves, half an onion and a bay leaf and then remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes (sounds remarkably like the start of Jane’s polenta recipe) – then add 120g dried breadcrumbs, stir, reduce heat and cook gently for 10 minutes. Cool and whizz in a blender, adding nutmeg & salt to taste.

Ah, we could go on … so why don’t you?  What are your favourite roast chook tips, tricks, accompaniments & complements?