29 May 2011

I feel like chicken tonight....

OK – that’s a bit of a play on a commercial but I must admit probably my favourite for meat – the first being lamb – something I never tried until I moved to England – how sad is that?! I found out at the store that whole free-range chicken was on offer. It is far cheaper per pound to buy a whole chicken and cut it up or roast it whole (and get a second/third) dinner from it than just buying already cut pieces. Don’t believe me? Compare the price per kilo. It does work out to be far cheaper and more economical. What is really the hard part is insisting that you use everything you have to make it go further.

So this posting will be about my initial dinner – roast chicken. I’ll chronicle only roasting the chicken and then I’ll chronicle the second and if I’m lucky third meal about it. With a whole chicken it depends on the time and my mood as to what I’ll do with it. I make this spicy blend (I had bought something similar to it originally but it was too salty so I looked at what was in it and then made my own – of course!) that I often just rub on the whole chicken and roast it just like that. Or I’ll soften some butter and add a bunch of herbs and spices and place that under the skin and let it roast. Sometimes I will put lemons in the cavity or there is always the plain but simply delicious option of salt, pepper and that’s it! If I’m feeling really decadent I’ll brine the chicken but because I stick to free-range or organic chicken that’s really not necessary (turkey is another matter!).

Today’s chicken I’ve decided to roast with my special spice rub. I like how it crisps the skin and also adds flavour to the stock that I make afterwards. I did this previously and it came out so good. I always wash it inside and out before I prep it. I pat it dry so that the spice rub adheres to the skin. I will even rub a bit on the inside of the bird as well – it seasons the underside of the meat. This is what the chicken looked like before I roasted it. I put a bit of oil on the bottom of the pan to keep the chicken from sticking while cooking.

The recipe I use for the rub is as follows;

Spice Rub (can be used on chicken, turkey or pork)

Equal quantities of each;

Paprika (sweet –not the hot kind), coriander, chilli pepper (I usually cut this to half as I’m not too keen on it being HOT), onion, garlic, nutmeg (again about the same as chilli pepper), salt and finally black pepper.

All spices are ground to begin with but lately I've been roasting them whole and then I put in a mortar and pestle to give them a extra grind but then add the other ingredients to combine and thoroughly mix. I then add some parsley flakes to the mixture and a bit of mixed Italian herbs once I’ve decanted it to a jar. I then have it ready for whatever meal I wish to use it for.

I roast the chicken at a higher temperature – about 220 degrees Celsius for about an hour or so until I know it’s done (and depending on the weight of the chicken). This is the chicken after I roasted it. Yummy!

I once saw a program about cheap chicken and how Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was trying to get everyone to switch from the cheap chickens to at least free-range or organic ones. To me he was preaching to the converted – I already do that. What I found shocking was those people who simply bought a cheap chicken – ate what they wanted and tossed the rest. This is why people and this planet are in trouble! We have to use everything that we have. Some of those old war mottos are right!
So come back next week to see what my meal number two is out of this fantastic roast chicken feast. I hope you’ll find something that appeals to you and that you try – that’s what this is all about – trying. Enjoy!


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