Another recipe I cannot take full credit for! The roast chicken recipe is actually based on one by a favourite chef of mine, Nigel Slater. I have made a few changes here and there and although the idea of the accompanying salad comes from Nige himself, the actual dish is my own creation.
So, a few comments about roast chicken. Traditionally it is served in gut expanding fashion with potatoes, chipolatas, veggies, stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, gravy.....I could go on and on! There is no denying that this makes for a lovely Sunday dinner but what happens is you really end up losing the chicken within all the other goodies on the plate. The recipe I have here really celebrates the chicken as the main event, encouraging the eater to really savour the golden, succulent, salty bird. The potatoes are cooked with the chicken so take on some of its flavours, making for a tender cloudy centre with a blackened, crispy exterior. And finally the salad, which is coated with the beautiful, oily juices from the chicken creates a taste sensation. I don't know why the cheesy salad goes so well with the chicken but just trust me.....it does!
Another note about roast chicken. It has always been a favourite Sunday dinner in my family, especially served alongside a big spoonful of skirlie which is an oatmeal stuffing I have only ever found in the north of Scotland. But from about October every year, my Mum refused to let us have a roast chicken dinner for Sunday lunch as she claimed it was too similar to Christmas dinner! I think her thought process was that if we deprived ourselves for the months prior to Christmas then we would enjoy our Christmas dinner even more. I can assure you that we would have enjoyed it anyway as food was always such a part of togetherness for us and Christmas day was a day full of joy in our family. Combining the two components was always going to be a winning combination!
This recipe bears little resemblance to the calorie laden, nap-inducing roast of Christmas day but I can happily put an argument forward for both formats.
1 medium chicken
75 grams butter
3 cloves of garlic
4 large potatoes, peeled (feel free to vary the amount here depending on numbers and appetite)
Half a bag of spinach leaves (or use whatever salad leaves you have in the house)
50 grams of cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 220 Degrees.
Put the chicken in a large roasting tin and smear all over with the butter.
Season with salt and pepper and tuck the peeled garlic cloves wherever they will fit.
Cut the potatoes into large hunks and put them around the bird in the bottom of the tin.
Roast for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190 degrees, spoon the buttery juices over the bird and the potatoes and roast for a further 45 minutes.
Baste the chicken with the juices a couple of times while it is cooking (although I frequently forget to do this!)
Put the spinach leaves on a plate and sprinkle over the finely chopped shallot.
Crumble or slice the cheese and add this to the plate.
When the chicken is cooked (the juices should run clear) remove it from the oven and place it on a serving plate to rest.
Turn the oven back up to 220 Degrees and put the potatoes back in for 10 - 15 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them.
Carve the chicken in whatever fashion you wish, but reserve all the juices that run out of it.
Once the potatoes are cooked, remove them from the roasting tin, put them in a dish and sprinkle with salt.
Pour any juices from the chicken plate back into the roasting tin, give the juice a good stir, mashing up the garlic cloves as you go, then add the juice of a lemon and a good sprinkle of salt.
Drizzle this juice over the salad.
Place the dishes of chicken, potatoes and salad on the table and allow people to greedily help themselves - they will not for one moment miss their skirlie or sprouts!