Ah, roast chicken. How did something so special become so humdrum, so meh? Because a decent roast chicken is truly a glorious thing; soft savoury meat, crisp golden skin, that knobbly bit at the back called the parsons nose. You can’t really roast a chicken wrong, but you can follow certain procedures and get it absolutely right. See our up-coming recipe for the perfect roast chicken for details.
Yet there are times when you want something a little different. Just to shake it up a little and reawaken your cooking mojo. Here are 5 ways to do just that.
Think of the cavity inside a chicken as a handy little place to hide away all your magic flavouring ingredients. Not only will they infuse the flesh to just the right level, but they keep everything moist too. Don’t forget to add the weight of the stuffing into your cooking calculations. There are several ways to stuff a bird.
- Classic sage and onion
- Posh stuffing, either bought or homemade. Think herbs, fruit, dried fruit, dried mushrooms…
- An onion and a bay leaf
- A bulb of garlic and half a lemon
- Handfuls of fresh herbs
Stuff it and serve it
Take stuffing one step further and prepare a stuffing that can be served alongside to make a full main course. Eat the extra portion, not the stuffing inside, as an extra hygiene precaution. Try these ideas and look out for a full recipe on site in the near future.
- Half cook basmati rice in boiling water. Mix through ground cumin, ground coriander, ground allspice, flaked sea salt, and plenty of black pepper. Stuff the chicken and put the rest, with a few tablespoons of water, in a Pyrex type dish covered tightly with foil. Cook the rice on a shelf below the chicken. To serve, add chopped fresh coriander, raisins and whole almonds to the rice. A little natural yoghurt on the side goes well.
- Try the above with cous-cous, quinoa, brown rice or even barley. Mix up the herbs, spices and bits to create new flavour combinations. Try fresh mint with garlic and lemon. Or use whole biryani spices for an Indian feel.
The skin on the outside of a chicken is just made for soaking up flavour that gently infuses through to the flesh. You can go for dry spices that will create a sort of bark, or an altogether wetter affair that will sink to the flesh below. Watch out that dry spices don’t burn; paprika is a particular culprit for this.
Try these ideas below.
- Olive oil, flaked sea salt and black pepper
- Harissa paste
- Chipotle and paprika paste plus garlic powder
- Butter, sage and cracked pink peppercorns
- Ground cumin, ground coriander and ground allspice
Turn it upside down
Not so much an idea as a cooking method, turning a bird to lay on its breast during cooking is the best way to get a succulent result. You can flavour it how you wish, using any of the above suggestions. Simple lay the bird breast side down and roast as normal, turning the right way up for the last 30 minutes. The best think about this method is that all of the skin gets crisp; the skin in the bottom of the bird particularly.
The late Marcella Hazan, godmother of Italian food, puts whole pierced lemons inside her roast chicken. Simply pierce with a skewer and place inside the bird. Served with some really garlicky mash and crisp bright broccoli, this is a fabulous way to serve roast chicken.