Thursday, 21 March 2013

Roast Chicken, Stuffing and Vibrant Root Vegetables

This is a Sunday roast with a difference since I decided to put a lot more effort into the most neglected part of it - the vegetables. The carrot and parsnip are diced and roasted beneath the chicken, soaking up its delicious juices while the red and yellow beetroot are braised separately with thyme and a little honey. They are then dotted among the other roots providing colourful bursts of herby-honeyed flavour.

This is served alongside a sage, apple and apricot stuffing, a gravy made up from the giblets, and a sourdough bread sauce. For pudding I made a variation of Nigella's Damp Apple Cake which I will post tomorrow. 

My beautiful guest!

Ingredients (serves 4)

The Chicken

I used a Fosse Meadows farm chicken from the Parliament Hill Farmers' Market which comes with giblets. My timings are for a 1.5kg bird

1 good quality Chicken
Oil, salt and pepper
Ras el Hanout
Half a lemon
1/2 a bulb of garlic
1 crushed clove of garlic
A handful of rosemary

The Gravy
2-3 teacups of white wine
1 cube of chicken stock (or the real thing if you have any to hand)
1 onion
1 tablespoon of cornflour

Root vegetables
2 big carrots, peeled and diced into triangles around 1x1x1cm and about 5mm thick.
3 parsnips peeled and diced as the carrot is

This beetroot was absolutely delicious mixed in with the carrot and parsnip. Unfortunately, the secret to their success is a whole lot of butter!

2 red beetroots
1 yellow beetroots, all diced like the carrots
Water for basting
1 teaspoon of honey
1 tablespoon of dried thyme

I used some delicious chesnut sausages from the Giggly Pig, again at the Parliament Hill farmers' market
340g sausages or sausage meat 55g breadcrumbs
60g pine nuts
100g apricots
1 small onion
1 apple
A handful of fresh sage, finely chopped (or a tablespoon of dried)

Sourdough Bread Sauce
For the sourdough breadcrumbs - use stale bread if you have any or slice and deceits some and dry it out in the oven at around 60 degrees for half an hour to an hour and then blitz in a food processor.

300g Milk
1 medium Onion
6 Peppercorns
6 Cloves
1 blade Mace
50g breadcrumbs 
2 tablespoons butter

I have put timings in as a guide because I find it easier to be organized that way but a lot of it should be instinctive and depends on the type of pan or hob you are using so just make sure you keep checking everything.

11.30: Chop the apricots into little pieces around 3x3mm or so. Toast the pine nuts in a pan with a drop of oil taking care that they go a nice bronze colour in places but don't burn - they are so expensive it is really annoying when they do! If you are anything like as absent minded as me, just stand over them the whole time, as boring as that is. Put aside.

11.40: Peel, core and dice your apple into nice little chunks and dice your onion finely. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil and fry your onions over a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Add the apple to the pan and cook for a further 8 minutes,  stirring frequently over a gentle heat.

11.55: allow to cool, then mix up all the ingredients (having taken the skin off the sausages), before pressing into a heat proof dish.

12.00: Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (200 for fan). Then put all the spices in with the milk and bring to just before boiling point, taking care it doesn't boil over and mess up your hob. Leave to infuse for half an hour or so.

12.05: Rub the chicken with the seasoning, spice, garlic and oil and place the garlic and lemon in the cavity.

12.10: Peel and dice all of your root vegetables into triangles around 1x1x1cm and about 5mm thick, keeping the beetroot separate.

Toss the carrot and parsnip in a tablespoon of oil and seasoning too, and place in a baking dish.

12.20:  Place the chicken on top of these vegetables, legs up and put in the preheated oven at 220 for 15 minutes.

12.25: Cover the giblets with water and a stock cube and put on the boil.

12:30: Place the stuffing in the oven along with the chicken.

12.35: Turn oven down to 165 degrees. 

Check gravy and top up if necessary.

12.36: Melt a 15g knob of butter in the pan and add the beetroot, giving them a good coating. Add a tea cup full of water, sprinkle over the thyme, and cover.

Check every 5 minutes or so and add more water when necessary.

12.50: Turn the chicken  over and give the parsnips and carrots a stir.

12.55: The beetroot should have had 20 minutes by now. Add the honey and another 5-10g butter. Cover again and keep basting for another 20-25 minutes until tender. 

1.00: Strain your infused milk and return it to the pan, then tip in your breadcrumbs and leave for half an hour.

1.15: Taste the beetroot and if soft enough, take off the heat, so it is ready to be heated before eating

1.20: Turn your chicken over again, untie and open up its legs so it cooks around the thighs.

1.40: Add the wine to your gravy and reduce until you have around a gravy dish's worth of gravy, then leave on a very low heat.

1.45: Heat up the bread sauce to a gentle simmer, whisking often, and adding more milk if necessary. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. 

1.50: Take your chicken out and leave to rest on a dish for 20 minutes. 

Turn the oven off and leave the stuffing and carrots/parsnips in it. 

Reheat your beetroot.

2.00: Meanwhile, onto the gravy: gradually turn the cornflour into a paste by gradually adding water and then diluting with the gravy and stirring it in. Simmer it for 5 minutes and then decant it into a gravy dish.

2.05: Finally stir the butter into your bread sauce and take it off the heat.

2.10: Everything should now be ready to serve.