I mentioned in my last post that Cinnamon had inspired me to try my hand at some Thanksgiving dinner classics. Having never so much as roasted a chicken before, and since there are only two of us at home, I wasn’t about to go the whole hog (or, to be precise, the whole turkey).
And so, thanks to a suggestion from Cinnamon, we made a small roast chicken on Sunday night. I also made gravy and stuffing to go with it, these being my favourite parts of a roast meal. To this we added some French pommes rissolées (courtesy of my husband) and steamed mange tout. The pumpkin pie I’d dreamed about didn’t make the cut in the end, because I figured that three new things I’d never cooked before were enough. An English treacle tart was purchased as a substitute.
Your eyes do not deceive you – I did admit above that I’d never roasted a simple chicken before. Roast anything had always sounded so complicated to me, having grown up with a cuisine that doesn’t use ovens. And I thought that my humble kitchen was way too small to attempt anything as ambitious as a festive dinner – all of that would be for when I had my dream kitchen.
But one of England’s heroes, Jamie Oliver, has made it so easy for restaurant-dependents like me. (Yes, Jamie’s stock is down in the market, but I still think he seems a great guy - he’s so positive and real.) Again on Cinnamon’s suggestion, I looked up his perfect roast chicken recipe and, putting aside all my excuses and fears of never-seen-it-done-before and kitchen-too-small, followed it. I was amazed at the result: the chicken was moist and flavoured perfectly with the bundle of herbs (sage, rosemary, bay and thyme) it had been stuffed with, and the gravy was bursting with the essence of the carrots, celery, onions and garlic from the roasting tin. With relatively few ingredients that you can pick up in any supermarket, I really did get a great roast chicken.
There’s a streak in me that often wants to have everything lined up before I can embark on something – I feel like x, y and z have to be in place before I can do a, b or c. But when is it ever enough? I couldn’t get a photo of the roast chicken to share with you, but here’s a photo of the humble kitchen with its 2 1/2 feet of prep space.
Just in case you feel like attempting this before Christmas, you can find Jamie Oliver’s perfect roast chicken recipe (that's really what he calls it) here and the gravy recipe here. Here is the cranberry and chestnut stuffing recipe (although I’d recommend going easy on the cranberries; and pork and bramley sausages worked as a great substitute for the turkey sausage).
And experienced chicken roasters, please share with us your one best tip (like how to get the skin nice and crispy!).