Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Roast Chicken and Celeriac

I used to hate roast dinners, Sunday’s were never a good food day for me. I found them incredibly boring and bland and didn’t like a whole host of vegetables that I now do. Amazingly I didn’t even particularly care for roast potatoes. I know, WTF? My poor mum, she loves a good roast and must have found me a right pain in the arse. And she always cooked the best roast , by far, of anyone I knew, but even so I was never keen.

We grow up though and tastes do change, even though we’d never imagine that to be the case as fussy children. I now really enjoy a good Sunday roast, as a treat - few and far between and simplicity being best, there’s something very comforting about spending a morning prepping for a big early afternoon blowout.

On Sunday then I invited my friend Phil over for lunch. I fancied a chicken, not that there was a huge amount of choice with it being no red meat October and all that and I’d already seen eatlikeagirl’s amazing looking whole roast celeriac which I thought would make a brilliant accompaniment. I then saw a recipe on seriouseats for Ferran Adrià’s roast chicken taken from his new book The Family Meal (inspired by the staff meals eaten at El Bulli). Job done!

I should point out that midway through preparing the chicken I was hugely dubious - the amount of dried herbs seemed ridiculous and I was sure they would overpower the chicken. You may feel the same. But it is really, truly fantastic - hugely flavourful, moist and tender. I’m not sure I will cook chicken any other way now. And Niamh Shield’s salt baked celeriac is another revelation: tender and juicy and a perfect partner to the chicken. I think shoestring or skinny fries are excellent with the chicken, celeriac and gravy - I’d wanted to make these from scratch but my mandolin has disappeared and so a bag of oven skinny fried it had to be.

The following recipes are taken, with minor amendments from the pages linked above.

Niamh Shield’s Slow Roast Celeriac with a Salt Crust
Serves 3-4

1 celeriac, unpeeled but scrubbed & tendrils and “beardy” bits cut off
3 tsp Waitrose 4-spice sea salt
3 tsp Maldon smoke sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Using a pestle & mortar, grind together the two different salts then coat the celeriac in a roasting tin with the olive oil and pat the sea salt all over.

Cover with foil and roast for 1 hour on the bottom shelf of the oven for 1 hour at 175C. After 1 hour the chicken will go in and the heat needs to go up to 220C.

10 minutes or so before the end of the total cooking time, remove the foil from the celeriac. Cut into slices and serve with the chicken.

Ferran Adrià's Roast Chicken
Serves 3-4

1.5kg free range chicken
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon
¾ tsp salt
10 dried bay leaves
1 ¾ tsp dried rosemary
2 tbsp dried thyme
½ tsp black peppercorns
4 garlic cloves, peel on
3 tablespoons white wine
40 ml (approx 3 tbsp) water

Turn the oven, which would have been on for an hour with the celeriac, up to 220C.

Using a pair of strong kitchen scissors or poultry shears if you have them, snip off the tips of the wings and also the parson's nose of the chicken. Throw these in the roasting pan.

Put the chicken in the roasting pan then season it inside and out with the salt. Rub with oil then finely grate the lemon zest (a microplane grater is perfect for this) over the breast and legs.

Cut the lemon into 8 pieces and place inside of the chicken.

Put the bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and peppercorns into a spice grinder or small food processor and grind to a fine powder.

Rub this herb mixture over the chicken and push the unpeeled garlic cloves inside the chicken.

Turn the chicken over so it is breast side down and place in the oven for 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes, turn the chicken over and roast it for another 35 minutes, until golden and cooked through.

Remove the chicken and set aside to rest in a warm place. Place the roasting pan over a medium flame on the hob and pour in the wine and the water, loosening any sediment with a wooden spoon. And any juices from the plate the chicken is resting on and bubble it all down to a gravy.

Carve the chicken into pieces and serve with the celeriac and some skinny fries.

Finally, pour the gravy over and enjoy!

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