Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is anything better than roast chicken?

Well I'm finally back from my stateside trip. It was somewhat dampened by a nasty bug but I recovered enough to enjoy some Floridian Key Lime Pie and indulge in all sorts of goodies over a long weekend in NYC. Details to come later this week!

No matter how good the food on holiday, I always love to return to my kitchen and look forward to some thoroughly British grub - last night's return supper was my
favourite fish pie. Wonderfully comforting. When asked to name my favourite British food I'm always torn. There are so many British classics that I adore. However, one thing just pips all other comforting goodies to the post and that has to be a classic roast with all the trimmings.

Next problem of course is to decide which meat I love best. Initially I think of roast beef with Yorkshire puddings. Then I think about how I adore a leg of Welsh lamb. Both are real treats which I adore. But for pure comfort, I actually think that a good roast chicken might top the list. It might sound dull but there is something simple yet utterly irresistible about a perfectly-roasted bird.

Just before I left for my holiday, I was lucky enough to receive a chicken from the folks at
Abel and Cole. Hang on a minute, I hear you say. Aren't they the organic veg box people?

Indeed they are. And their fruit and veg boxes are superb. To be honest I've never ventured beyond the fruit and veg section of their website but a closer inspection reveals a whole world of other produce which they deliver straight to your door. Organic meat, baked goods, dairy and fish are all available. And the prices are much better than I expected too.

But let me tell you about this lovely
free range chicken. It is no ordinary bird. This free-range chicken is (wait for it) 'rainforest friendly'. Confused? I was. I wasn't aware that the chickens I'd been buying were rainforest unfriendly. Apparently so. It is all to do with soya which is used in regular chicken feed. Soya is a major contributing factor to deforestation. You can read more about it here. All very interesting, but is the chicken any good, I hear you ask?

Oh yes...

This environmentally-friendly chook is reared by Devon farmers who are passionate about the project. The chickens are not organic but Abel and Cole consider them to be the next best thing - ideal if stretching to an organic bird each week is just a bit too tough on the bank balance.

This was a delicious bird, I have to tell you. It remained beautifully juicy as it cooked and had a great, properly chickeny flavour. Too many standard chickens taste of nothing. I pretty much always roast my chicken the same way. I stuff it with half a lemon, a few onion wedges, fresh thyme and a bayleaf. I then rub a touch of softened butter over the skin and season well with salt and pepper. Sometimes I pour a glass of white wine into the roasting tin to help the gravy along.

Roast potatoes are a must (few things disappoint me more than roast chicken served with mash or new potatoes). Goose fat is great but I don't HAVE to have it. On this occasion plain old olive oil and King Edward potatoes worked a treat. Roast parsnips usually get my vote, as do leeks and peas. I'm a creature of habit when it comes to roast chicken. How do you like yours?

Sadly, it was rather late by the time my bird emerged from the oven all golden and lovely. The photos don't even begin to do it justice - you'll just have to imagine the mouthwatering herby smell!


Sam said...

I've never heard of rainforest friendly chicken before! I'll look out for that. I always buy free range or at the very least freedom foods and I'm convinced I can taste the difference.

I cook mine almost the same as you, with lemon and time. Sometimes I'll stuff bacon between the skin and the breast, now that is delicious!

Bellini Valli said...

This is an excellent way to start off the week with a chicken roasted to perfection:D

Peter M said...

Nope, nothing (little) can beat a roast chicken!

James said...

The skin's the thing!

I'm lucky enough to have a small scale poultry farmer nearby - the chicks are hatched from her own hens, rather than buying in live chicks. When they're not laying though there's another farm shop who get them from Madgett's Farm, which also do mail order.

If I'm roasting I normally bone them, make stock from the bones, and then use that for the gravy.