With a little elbow grease, you, too, can have a tasty bird in hand.
Don’t we all love a golden, tasty roast. A whole roasted bird placed on the table for sharing is one of those meals that make for great family moments – a pot of curry can work as well but that’s a story for another day.
For Mother’s Day, a lovingly tended home roast is really not a bad idea. It’s a dish that is easy enough for anyone in the family to attempt – so go ahead and surprise mom with a roasted bird, any day of the week, in fact.
To complete the meal, try a golden pumpkin soup scented with curry leaf oil and apple crumble with ginger cream – both can be made ahead, kept chilled, and reheated just before serving.
The roasting basics
·Roasting and baking is a hot air cooking
technique using an oven or open roaster. The term “roasting” is applied to meats and vegetables, and “baking” is used for cakes, breads and cookies, etc.
·Making sure that the food remains uncovered is central to roasting. Covering the meat traps moisture and produces steam, and the process then changes from a dry heat cooking method to a moist heat cooking method, which slows the browning process that produces a tasty and crispy skin.
·Roasting a whole bird is different from roasting pieces of meat. First, the bird needs to be trussed or tied. Trussing gives the chicken a nice shape and helps the bird browns and cooks
evenly. The basic idea for trussing is to keep
the limbs close to the body and seal any open cavities.
·For even browning, place the bird on a wire rack set in a roasting pan to allow hot air to circulate around it freely. And place the roasting pan in the middle of the oven.
·Constant basting – every 5 to 10 minutes – with the pan juices is the key to success in roasting. Basting helps in the browning of the skin through a chemical process called the Maillard (pronounced my-yar) reaction, which enhances the flavour of the food. The pan juices contain fats which will prevent the meat from drying out.
·Chicken is cooked when the juice runs clear, i.e. there are no more traces of blood in the liquid run-off. Remember that the bird will continue to cook for another 10 minutes after the heat has been turned off due to the retained heat.
·Rest the chicken for at least 15 minutes with the oven door open, after roasting and before carving – this period allows the muscles to relax and the meat will be more tender and moist.
·As each oven performs differently, you need to know your oven – and adjust the temperature and timing of recipes – to achieve the perfect roast.
How to truss a bird
A simple way to truss a bird is to tie its legs together with butcher’s string and fold the two wings back. And voila!
Pumpkin soup scented with curry leaf
1 tablespoon butter
750g pumpkin flesh, cubed
2 shallots, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 sprigs curry leaves, lightly crushed
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Melt the butter in a frying pan over low heat.
Add shallots and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add pumpkin, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat, stirring now and then.
Add the milk and bring to boil. Cover with lid, lower heat and simmer for around 30 minutes, or until pumpkin is tender.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Use a handheld blender to process to a smooth cream.
For the garnishing Heat the oil over low heat. Add the leaves and fry until crisp but try not to brown. Remove from heat immediately. Set aside to cool and infuse.
To serve Serve luke-warm, or cold, in a soup plate or bowl, drizzled with a teaspoon of the aromatic oil and curry leaves.
Honey & Mustard Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
1 whole chicken (2kg), cleaned
1-2 sprigs rosemary or tarragon (optional)
2 large carrots
2 large potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
1 small white radish
1 head garlic, unpeeled, cloves separated (more if you like roasted garlic)
50g butter, melted
50ml olive oil
2 tbsp honey, mixed with
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
sea salt and freshly grated
pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Cut away the chicken claws. Snip 1cm off the wing tips (if you leave it on, it will just burn during cooking). Place the rosemary in the cavity of the chicken.
For a more comely shape and even browning, truss the bird with butcher’s string.
Peel and slice the vegetables lengthwise or cut into wedges. (Allow 200g vegetables each.) Set aside.
Place a tablespoon of the butter and oil mixture in the roasting pan and brush it over the entire pan. Place the chicken, breast side up, in the roasting pan. Brush the bird liberally
all over with the butter and oil.
Place the pan in the centre of the oven and roast for 20 minutes – after every 5 to 10 minutes, brush the chicken (also known as basting) with the drippings that has collected in the roasting pan (also known as the pan juices).
Turn the chicken over so the breast is down. Roast for another 20 minutes, basting every 5 to 10 minutes as before.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven and brush the honey and mustard mixture generously all over the chicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken, breast up, back on the roasting pan and arrange the vegetables and garlic cloves around the bird in the pan. Toss the vegetables in the pan juices so that they are coated in the juice. Drizzle some of the remaining butter and olive oil mixture over the vegetables.
Roast for 15-20 minutes, basting once midway, until the chicken is golden brown and the vegetables are browned and cooked through.
At the end of the cooking, turn off the heat and allow the chicken to rest in the oven for 15 minutes with the door open.
This chicken does not require a sauce, but if you wish, you can make a sauce from the leftover pan juices.
Pan gravy After you have removed the chicken and vegetables from the roasting pan, skim off excess oil from the pan juices. Place the pan on the stove over low heat and add 100ml chicken stock, white wine or water. Simmer until the mixture is thick – a coating consistency. Strain.
To serve Serve the chicken and vegetables in its roasting pan or remove them to a serving platter. Portion out the chicken and place on warmed plates if possible. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve with the roasted vegetables.
Note: Use real butter for this
recipe and free-range or organic chicken if possible.
Apple Crumble with Ginger Cream
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp sugar or to taste
110g all-purpose flour
80g cold salted butter, cubed
100g walnuts, chopped
60g caster sugar
20g ginger, chopped
65g caster sugar
To cook filling Peel and core apples. Cut into slices. Place the apple slices in a saucepan and add enough water and lemon juice to cover them. Add the cinna-mon stick and cook over medium heat until soft, about 30 minutes. Sweeten to taste.
For crumble Rub flour and butter together until sandy. Work in the rest of the ingredients. Or, pulse all the ingredients together
in a food processor. You should get a crumbly, lumpy mixture.
To bake Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place filling in a dish to a depth of at least 2cm, and top with crumble. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
For ginger cream
Place milk and ginger in
a saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Whisk sugar and yolks in a heatproof bowl until thick and pale. Then add boiling milk gradually as you continue to whisk. Pour mixture back into saucepan.
Cook, stirring, over low heat; do not let
it boil or it may curdle. Custard is ready when
it has thickened slightly. Remove from heat. Strain and chill. (You can make this ahead.)
To serve Serve slightly warm, at room temperature, or cold, with chilled cream.