Monday, November 29

The Perfect Roast

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.

Maybe everything doesn’t have to be perfect before you can create something beautiful. That's what I learned from making a simple roast chicken.

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!).




~Mama said...

The most delicious turkey or chicken I know of is smoked over wood chips on the grill. Can be tricky to pull off wood chips or a grill in England though, so I agree with you and Jamie--herbs and a lemon in the cavity. If you roast your chicken in a covered casserole pot, you can fill the bottom of the pot with rice, lentils, vegetables and water. You will have to baste it once or twice, but the end result is a moist chicken and some very tasty rice.

Speaking of roasting birds, I suggest duck over red cabbage (covered in brown sugar, red wine, dash of vinegar, and star anise). A good winter meal.

Foodie Doctor said...

Hey Truffle!
I've cooked a few roast chickens in my time (in fact roasts are one of my go-to's when I want to cook a special dinner). My best tip for crispy skin comes from the Two Fat Ladies (which is surprisingly fat-free)- once you've cleaned out the chicken, pour boiling water over the skin- you'll see it shrivel up a little. Works a charm!
I have a great recipe from Bill Granger for a Ricotta and Herb Stuffed chicken. The ricotta oozes throughout the chicken making it super moist. You can find the recipe here

Cinnamon and Truffle said...

Hi ~Mama, I totally agree with you on the wood chips - I'm still talking (and was even in NC) about that turkey we had at yours last Thanksgiving. It was the best turkey I've ever tasted. And thank you so much for your recipes. I love the sound of the duck with red cabbage - it even sounds quite Christmassy!

Hey Foodie Doctor! Hope you had a good trip back and thank you for logging into C&T. I love the boiling water trick and I'll definitely try that - thank you for the tip! And the super moist ricotta chicken sounds divine. I think I might trial it on Rice Krispie when she comes to dinner in a couple of weeks...



Anonymous said...

Desert Candy ( has a recent post on roasting and looks at the difference between roasting and frying and has an interesting conclusion on the point. It has made me think about making a roast dinner at some point over Christmas.

Cinnamon and Truffle said...

Proud of you, Truffle! Jamie Oliver really changed my life when I was in my 20s. An old school friend of mine sent me "The Naked Chef" as a wedding gift and I still refer to that to this day. The most important thing I learned from Jamie is to be flexible. If there is no sage, but you have thyme, just throw it in! No chili flakes, but you have chili sauce, just use that instead. Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the Chicken Roast.

It is amazing how my daughters turned out to be such good Foodies. They are proving themselves that they not only can eat well as good Singaporeans do, but write about good food on the blog and make it also.

I remember when I got married and came to Singapore, Appa used to say that girls ( some of them who are Uppatis ) say "I dont know how to cook and I dont cook at home" and so on. It was fashionable to say that.

Now things have changed .

Lots of luck to Cinnamon and Truffle.


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