Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland

Nick Nairn’s Roast Chicken

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Was deciding what to eat this evening, and whilst shopping round Tesco, I decided to do roast chicken. Having been at Nick Nairn’s Cook School, I decide to use his method. Even after you have roasted your chicken and had your dinner, there are so many other things you can do with the left over’s – rissotto, soup, curry, etc – and with a freezer you can make your own ready meals to have later.

I have bought a free range chicken, which although costs more than the mass produced “three for £5.00” chickens, they have far much more flavour, and roast better.

I have cheated and taken this recipe from The Scotsman since it avoided transcribing my notes from the course. The recipe in The Scotsman also includes the roasting of the vegetables, which I have omitted below. One thing I have realised each time I follow this method, is how is can be adapted. You can use other spices on the skin for a different flavour and substitute other herbs (mainly leafy ones) for the parsley. The other point to note is not to stuff the cavity with stuffing and to spread the out the legs. This will allow the heat to get evenly distributed throughout the bird and means that it will all be cooked without the outside being overcooked and drying out.

Once you have eaten your fill, take the rest of the meat of the carcass and reserve for another dish, and then you can make stock with the bones. This stock can be the basis of soup or gravy, and can used in many ways. The only limitation is your imagination and they is a great sense of achievement when you are eating food you have put together yourself.

Update – This time we got four portions out the bird. Two have been duly eaten, and the other two have been set as ready meals to be heated up later in the week with the addition of some vegetables. On thing the lemon does is add a tang to the gravy, and roasted garlic does not have the same strength and crushed in sauces. The roasting appears to mellow its effect.

Nick’s perfect roast chicken dinner

1 large chicken
1 lemon
Handful flat leaf parsley
1 whole head of garlic (cut across the equator)
Olive oil
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large glass of white wine
¾ of a Knorr chicken stock cube
200ml water

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Untruss the chicken and let it come to cool room temperature before cooking. Cut the lemon into eighths, and lightly crush the whole garlic cloves using the back of a knife so that they just crack open. Feel inside the cavity between the legs and pull out any large pieces of fat still clinging to the insides. Stuff the cavity with the lemon wedges, garlic and a huge handful of flat leaf parsley, stalks and all.

Rub the outside of the bird all over with olive oil and season very well with salt and pepper. Slash down through the skin between the legs so that they go floppy. Sit the bird in a roasting tin and pour in a bit more oil, but not too much. Roast on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes.

Open the oven door remove chicken and baste with the juices in the tray. Return the chicken to the oven and put the potatoes on the highest shelf above the chicken. Roast for roughly another 40 minutes making sure you constantly baste occasionally.

When everything is looking good and golden brown, test the chicken in the thickest part of the leg to see if its cooked and the juices run clear, if so then remove the chicken from the tray and set onto a warm plate covered loosely with a piece of foil to rest for 10 minutes.

Now make the gravy. Tip the excess fat out of the pan. Set the chicken roasting tin on the heat, and add the wine, stock cube and 150 ml water. Bring to the boil and boil furiously for 2-3 minutes, scraping up all the sticky bits from the bottom of the tin. Taste and season well. Tip any juices that have flowed out of the chicken into the gravy, then strain into a warm jog or gravy boat. Allow to settle, then spoon off any fat from the top. Serve immediately

Author: Stewart

An instrumentation engineer who enjoys photography and singing. Working in the West of Scotland; a member of St Mary's Cathedral Glasgow and Southwark Cathedral; and a volunteer guard/signalman on the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales.

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