Winner winner chicken dinner

Roast a chicken on a Sunday, eat like an adult until Tuesday

 

Ever since I started college, the most frequent piece of advice I’m given is to roast a chicken and live off it for a few days.

This mainly makes me think of having to force down dry turkey day after day following Christmas dinner, where no amount of cranberry sauce will help. I also thought it would be too much fuss to actually roast a bird in my tiny student kitchen, but today it’s freezing outside, and I haven’t been home for a roast dinner in a long time.

In reality, making my own roast dinner was cheaper than a train ticket home and didn’t taste like dry cardboard turkey.

I finally decided that I was going to roast a chicken for Sunday dinner on Thursday, but it wasn’t until Sunday at 10am that I realised I hadn’t actually bought one yet. Hopping on my bike, I sped to Aldi hoping to miss the post-mass shopping rush.

In fact, there was no traffic to be seen and I felt like the Irish mammy rushing to get the Christmas sprouts on, in July…

Between the whole chicken and all the veg I spent €8.50, which is more than enough food for four people. What you can do is cook the chicken, have your little roast dinner then save the rest of the meat for lunch or dinner for the following two or three days.

Once dinner was eaten, I picked the meat off the bone and stored it in a container in the fridge.

When this column first came out, my mother’s response was that when she was my age, she and my godmother would mash potatoes with a vodka bottle. I have used baby potatoes as the starch representative for this recipe. The reason for this is to make the whole process easier and a little faster. Feel free to roast or mash the grown-up potato or use whatever method is most within your means.

Main factors in cooking chicken

Make sure your hands are clean in the first place and wash your hands thoroughly after handling chicken.

The general cooking time is 20 mins for every 500g of chicken, plus 20mins extra cooking. For example, a

1.5kg chicken will take 1hr 20mins. I don’t need to tell you how important it is to cook chicken properly.

Make sure the juices are clear and in no way pink.

Make sure you let the chicken rest for at least 15mins after cooking. Let all of those tight muscles relax, just like yourself after an unending 3 hour lecture. It will be a lot easier to carve then, both for you and the chicken

Ingredients
1 free range whole chicken, around 1.5kg
1 tbsp. butter, room temperature
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
For the veg:
1 carrot
1 parsnip
Handful of baby potatoes (or as many as your potato addiction requires)
Olive oil
Salt/pepper
1 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 tsp honey (optional)
2 sprigs thyme (optional)

Preheat your oven to 220°C
Lay the whole chicken on a roasting tray with high sides. Pat dry with paper towels and rub the butter all over the skin. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the chicken, particularly the breasts and legs.
Roast in the oven for 10mins then reduce the temperature to 180°C for the remaining cooking time.

While the chicken is cooking, wash and prepare the veg. Cut the carrots and parsnips into sticks and then lay flat on one half of a baking tray. On the other, put the baby potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Pull the thyme off the stalks and add to the carrots/parsnips. Mix in the honey and chuck the garlic on top. Once the chicken is cooked, you can pop the veg into the oven. They should cook in the time that the chicken is resting
Once the chicken is cooked for the appropriate time, take it out of the oven to check to see if it is cooked properly. The legs should wiggle a little. Cut in between the leg and the breast, hold the knife at an angle against the base of the cut to see if the juices run clear, with no pink. If the juices are not clear, pop the chicken back into the oven and check a few minutes later.
Transfer to a large plate or another tray to leave it to rest. Put the veg in the oven to roast for approx. 20mins, until golden brown.
Now to make the gravy: Take the roasting tray the chicken was in and pour off the fatty liquid. Put the tray back on medium heat to heat up the remaining sediment. Once it’s bubbly and hot, pour in the chicken stock and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to dissolve the tasty juices. Pour this liquid into a small saucepan and simmer for a few minutes to let it reduce to a consistency you like.
Now this can be the scary part: carving the chicken, but it shouldn’t be.
Firstly, remove the legs: bend the legs away from the body and they should pop out of the socket. Using a knife, cut through the skin to release them. Do the same thing with the wings
Then, cut through the centre of the chicken, along the breastbone. Starting on one side, follow the bone, cutting along it and remove the breast. Repeat on the other side.
There, the scary part is over and now you are free to assemble your plate of roasty goodness. Place a few vegetables onto your plate, top with your chicken cut of choice and pour over the gravy like the luscious waterfall it is.