BY PATRICIA MICHELSON
As often as not Danny and I had roast chicken most Sundays. And if there was an Arsenal home game starting around 5pm on the day, then the timing for roasting the chicken was carefully co-ordinated so that it was ready by the time the game was over. Danny was not a natural cook, but he was consistent. Once he learned a recipe he would tweak it a bit and then never alter the prep or serving. His one marvellous addition was to throw loads of unpeeled garlic cloves into the roasting pan so they were gorgeously softened and caramelised in the juices. We'd been married since 1972 so we were oblivious to 'offending' garlic breath!
- 1 x large organic Roasting Chicken
- Extra virgin olive oil to rub over chicken lightly
- Unsalted butter (softened) — from Charente Poitou preferably
- Herbs: Thyme, Rosemary, Small Bay leaf, Flat Parsley — tied with string
- Whole bulb of Purple Cadours Garlic — separated but not peeled of skin
- 1 Amalfi unwaxed lemon
- 1 Small Onion or large Shallot Fleur de Sel or Sea Salt White wine to finish gravy
- Sri Lankan black pepper
Oven at 180 degrees C
Pinch over all the skin of the chicken to slightly loosen as this helps with the cooking and crisping of the skin. Lightly rub all over the bird a little extra virgin olive oil. Rub the inside cavity with a little sea salt and stuff in the bunch of herbs and onion/shallot. Now liberally rub over the butter — don't be shy as butter is always better — all over the bird making sure the breast and legs are well covered. Sit the bird in your chosen roasting pan and squeeze over the bird half the lemon if it is large or whole lemon if it is small, and stuffing the squeezed lemon shell into the bird to seal the cavity. Sprinkle over sea salt.
Place on the middle shelf and roast for 90 mins or 120 mins if it is a particularly big bird. You want the skin to look lovely and golden and when you insert a thin skewer into the meatier part of the thigh the juices run clear. If you are around and can baste the bird a couple of times that would be good, but if not don't worry it should be fine.
Take out the pan from the over and gently lift the bird onto a serving platter and loosely cover with foil to rest.
All the wonderful juices in the pan can now be skimmed of excess fat, and the whole garlic cloves removed to be served with the chicken.
The juices should be poured into a saucepan or if your roasting tin can be used on the stove/hob then scrape all the bits stuck on the pan into the sauce and add dry white wine into the pan and reduce. Just a small glass will be fine or you can add a little chicken stock too if you wish. Reduce down to a nice pouring consistency, taste and add salt if necessary, and freshly ground black pepper. It's all ready to serve.
We would always have a green salad with watercress, baby gem, chicory, fennel and green beans (lightly steamed for two minutes max and then cooled quickly under cold water) — and Danny liked a punchy dressing made with extra virgin olive oil mixed with a lighter simple olive oil, volpaia red wine vinegar, a little Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and finely chopped herbs (whatever we had to hand — tarragon, thyme, rosemary, parsley).
If there was a decent amount of chicken left over for another meal, we would have a salad like above but the dressing would be the remainder of the chicken gravy tossed with Balsamic Vinegar and topped with chunky croutons.The only downside to our Sunday roast chicken would be if Arsenal played badly and lost to a team like Spurs (my favoured team) as our meal would be one long rant and general banter back and forth. Happy Days! Miss them