My parents were coming over for dinner last Sunday and the idea of a Sunday roast popped into my head. I excitedly excavated the 3 kilo chicken from my freezer. Fighting with icicles and an avalanche of peas that decided to fall on my head, as I struggled to free the winged beast. Eventually the chicken found its way to my fridge, de frosting and ready to roast for Sunday dinner.
I used to be afraid of roasting meat, having tasted the many dry and tough roasts that my mother* made when I was growing up. Over cooked beef, chicken and turkey. My mother’s rule was always “3 hours on high no matter how large the beast and if it’s not burnt in that time, stick it under the grill”. Needless to say, I grew up believing that jerky and roast were the same thing. Thankfully, I discovered the joy of digital instant read thermometers so I would never overcook meat. I bought one last year for $40 thinking it would only be used once for the Christmas turkey and that I was wasting my money, but how wrong I was. I have never undercooked or overcooked a piece of meat since. Thank you Pando (Pando is the nickname I gave my thermometer because it is black and white and reminds me of a panda).
This recipe for the chook came about simply because I had lemons and sage in the fridge. They seemed like a good combination. I learnt the trick of stuffing butter and herbs under the breast skin from my aunt who is the best cook in the world. It always results in flavourful juicy breast meat and crispy browned skin.
If you have left over meat it is best to slice it evenly and lay it on a plate, overlapping each piece. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate immediately. This ensures that the meat cools quickly and consistently to reduce the spread of bacteria. The stuffing however should be eaten immediately (this isn’t hard to do with good stuffing) or kept no longer than 1 day in the fridge, making sure to re heat it thoroughly before eating.
*While roast isn’t her strong point, she makes the best Yorkshire pudding and gravy which easily make up for the meat. Seriously, it’s the best.
1/2 a loaf of White bread
1/3 cup Sage, finly chopped
1/3 cup Parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup Butter, melted
1 tbsp Salt
Rind of 1 Lemon, finely grated
3 tbsp Lemon juice
5 Semi dried cherry tomatoes
1, 3 kilo Chicken
5 Sage leaves
2 tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Chicken stock
4 large Potatoes
1/2 kilo Butternut pumpkin
2 tbsp Butter
1/2 tbsp each of Salt, paprika, dried sage and thyme
1/4 cup Chicken stock
1. In a food processor, process the bread until it forms large crumbs (a few chunks are good as they will add a lovley texture). Evenly spread the crumbs onto an oven tray and place under the grill until golden brown. Mix them up and grill them again until all the crumbs are golden
2. In a mixing bowl mix all the ingredients together. I like to use my hands for mixing but a fork will also suffice if you don’t like to get messy. Make sure you taste a little to make sure it seasoned to your desired flavour.
The Chicken and Vegetables:
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Cut potatoes into large chunks (skin on for more fibre), peel the pumpkin and carrots and also chop into large chunks. Throw these into a large mixing bowl and pour over melted butter, salt and spices. Mix until everything is coated. Now chuck these into a large roasting pan. Good work so far.
2. Make sure your chicken is clean and the guts have been removed. Now, take a hand full of stuffing and fill your chicken up, making sure to firmly press the stuffing so it all fits in.
3. Gently, push small chunks of butter and sage leaves under the skin on the breast of the chicken (you may need to loosen the skin first by running your hand under to separate it from the meat, making sure not to break the skin)
4. Truss the chicken securly with kitchen string (I didn’t have any string so I had to skip this step. Here is a good site that shows you how). Place the chicken breast side up on top of the vegetables, ading 1/4 cup of chicken stock to the pan (this will create steam to keep everything moist). Cover tightly with aluminium foil and place in the oven.
5. For each kilo of chicken, roast for approximately 30min.* Check the chicken every 30 min. and baste the chicken by pouring over the pan juices. When the chicken is 20 min away from finishing, remove foil and continue to roast (this allows the skin to brown and crisp). When the core temperature reaches 75-80 degrees Celsius, your bird is done (make sure that when you are measuring the temperature of the chicken to insert the thermometer into the thickest part, I usually prod the breast from the stuffing end of the bird).
6. Remove the roast from the oven and allow it to sit for 15 min before carving. Feel free to make a gravy out of the remaining pan juices or serve as is (don’t worry, it will be flavourful enough without any sauce).
* As my chicken was 3 kilos, I baked it for an hour and thirty minutes.