Roast chicken is one of the most basic dishes to prepare.For many Asian families, however, roast chicken is usually store-bought because they either do not own an oven or the kitchen appliance is strictly used for baking cakes, cookies and other confectioneries.
My mother-in-law does not allow roasting to be done in her oven because she does not want to let that affect the taste of her baked products.
For many years, I used dried mixed herbs when roasting a whole chicken.
I had no idea what herbs were in the mix but it tasted fine because I did not know any better.
Then I discovered the wonderful world of fresh herbs that took my roast to a whole other level. Every time I think of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, the song Scarborough Fair comes to mind but also that timeless tradition of infusing the bounty of the land into everyday dishes.
There is no turning back once you have used fresh herbs as there is no comparison to the freshness in taste.
The first time I roasted a chicken with fresh herbs was for my dad on Fathers Day.
I bought a free range chicken of about 2.5kg because I thought I might as well go all the way if I was making a traditional flavour.
I was also curious to taste roasted chicken like it was done in ancient days.
The result was phenomenal. The chicken turned out moist and tender, its taste pure and intense with the robust herbs.
Thereafter, I would look out for free range chicken, for roasting, whenever possible.
I would ask the poultry trader for a chicken weighing more than 2kg, and she would ask what I was making.Then she would give me a weird look and say it was a waste to roast free range chicken.
But I knew better because battery chicken cannot match its flavour.
One of the tricks to keep chicken tender, especially the breast, is to make sure that the meat retains its moisture.
Inserting butter between the skin and breast allows the fat to get absorbed into the meat, thus adding flavour.A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil adds another layer of taste, helping retain moisture.
More importantly, the chicken has to be lifted on a rack away from the pan so that the heat can circulate around the bird without needing to flip it over.
Then fill the pan with water, white wine, beer or cider.
This liquid creates steam that keeps the chicken moist throughout the roasting process.The drippings will also be used for gravy.
I do not usually add root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes into the roasting pan because these absorb a lot of the drippings that not much gravy is left.
To have roast vegetables, I place them in a separate pan on the bottom rack, or roast them after the chicken comes out of the oven.
You can also use this recipe to marinade chicken chops for grilling.
I usually blend all the herbs together with peeled garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper into a paste, then smother six chicken chops with the paste for about an hour. You can broil them over the barbecue, roast in the oven, or just grill over the stove-top. Chicken chops are boneless and are done in 20 minutes.Roast ChickenIngredients1 whole chicken, about 2 kg
50g unsalted butter
8 cloves garlic
5g fresh parsley
5g fresh sage
5g fresh rosemary
5g fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper + extra freshly ground over chicken
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cups water, white wine, beer or cider
1 tsp cornstarch + 1 tbsp water
MethodClean and dry whole chicken, trim off head and neck, legs and excess fat.
With the breast facing up, insert your hands under the chicken skin, at the neck cavity, and ease the skin away from the meat, leaving a huge pocket at both sides of the breasts.
Cut butter into thin slices and insert into the pockets between the chicken skin and breast meat.
Pluck off 12 sage leaves and arrange into the pockets. Sprinkle the inside and outside with salt and pepper.
Mince all the fresh herbs and stuff into the bird cavity.
Lightly smash the whole unpeeled garlic cloves and stuff into the bird.
Cut a short length of kitchen twine about 20cm and tie up the drumsticks to keep the stuffing tucked inside the bird.
Drizzle with olive oil and rub all over the bird.
Then grind extra pepper to cover the chicken.
Place chicken on a rack in a roasting
pan and fill the pan with three cups of fluid of your choice.
Roast in a preheated oven at 200°C for one hour until fully cooked.
To check for doneness, prick the thigh joint and it is done if the juice runs clear.
Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
In the meantime, pour the pan drippings into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce the gravy for about five minutes, then add cornstarch slurry to thicken.
Pour gravy over chicken and serve immediately.