from one generation to the next
It’s easy to take for granted that your blog followers share with you the same basic understanding of cooking but defining that “basic” is like interpreting “normal.” Shaped by experience, preferences, beliefs, family, and culture, everyone’s situation is unique.
A couple of weeks ago a reader asked if I had posted a recipe for roast chicken. Roasting meat is part of my Anglo Australian cooking heritage, an everyday technique you learn from your Mum, but then, thinking more deeply about the process, about the details that ensure roast chicken is always moist, tasty and cooked to the bone, I concluded it’s not so simple afterall.
Oven roasted chicken with all the trimmings was my Mum’s celebration meal. Before the mass battery hen industry lowered the price of a chicken to within reach of the average household, it was indulgent, it was extravagant and to me, it was the most delicious meal I could ever eat. As I entered my teens, the prices of poultry plummeted and roast chicken become a regular on our dinner table.
As a family meal, roast chicken has come a full circle. I take a moral stand on the consumption of chicken and eggs. I always choose organic, by definition also free range, and ethically raised birds don’t come cheaply, so my roast chicken must be perfect. I want crisp golden skin, moist well flavoured breast meat and juicy thigh cooked to the bone.
These are my tips and tricks:
1. For better flavour and more even cooking, choose a large chicken, 1.8kg – 2kg.
2. Remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before you intend to put it in the oven.
3. Preheat the oven to 200C.
4. To keep the breast moist, stuff the cavity with a simple seasoning of 2 cups of fresh breadcrumb, a tablespoon of dried herbs and the zest of a lemon, moistened only with water, about 1/4 cup.
5. Truss the chicken loosely so that the oven heat can easily penetrate the space between the thigh and the breast.
6. Rub the chicken skin all over with a slick of olive oil.
7. Put the chicken breast side up in the baking dish.
8. Bake the chicken on the middle rack of the oven for 10 minutes at 200C then reduce the heat to 180C.
9. Don’t use any tools that will pierce the chicken skin while the bird is cooking or resting, as the juices that have collected underneath the skin, keeping the meat moist will flow out.
10. Turn the tray, not the chicken.
11. Bake a 1.8kg chicken for 1 hour, 20minutes.
12. Remove the chicken from the oven and rest it in a warm place for 15-20 minutes before carving and serving