Friday, June 23, 2006

Nigella's Infamous Roast Chicken Recipe

While we're on the subject of Nigella Lawson, the woman cannot stop banging on about roast chicken. And she cheerfully admits it herself (that and rhubarb, peas and marsala!). The other day I was in the mood and though I've tried many a roast chicken recipe, they are often fiddly - turn breast side down for half an hour then roll again, slice the legs, cut off the drumsticks and put them back in on their own ... etc etc. This looked very easy - ridiculously simple. I doubted it would work, but I gave the Roast Chicken Poster Girl's version a go. And, ridiculously, it worked.

It is simplicity itself - a whole chicken at room temp. Slather on some butter, drizzle on some oil and sprinkle on some salt (in Nigella-world, salt = Maldon and rightly so). Oh, and a lemon in the cavity. I don't use the zest of citrus unless it's organic, so I cut the pith and peel off these, cut them in half and bunged them in. One chicken takes around 1 1/4 hours, with fifteen minutes for resting. I have adopted another of Nigella's suggestions, which is to roast 2 at once and this takes around 2 hours.

The thighs ARE cooked, the breast meat is NOT too dry, it all seems ludricrous, given the lack of basting and turning, but there you go. Sometimes women in twin sets do know what they're suggestively suggesting ... and the sauce is absolutely delicious.

For a slightly spicier variation a week later (see, it's gone straight to the pool room - sorry, repetoire!), I added some Nando's hot peri peri sauce to the chickens. And about a kilo of julienned carrots went into the dish to roast alongside the chooks. While they were resting, I tossed a packet of Asian egg noodles in with the sauce and carrots and put the dish back into the oven for another 10 minutes, to warm and crisp on top. The noodles were a great addition, but I must warn you to go carefully with them - they soak up all those chickeny, fat-loaded juices and half an hour after eating, a certain someone was rolling around on the couch groaning "why did I eat so much?". But the beauty of the double chicken roast is that there are plenty of leftovers for chicken sandwiches and soup the next day. And no one glares as a drumstick is snapped up, because there are still another three to be eaten. Plenty of food and very easy. I suppose that's the Nigella way. Now I just have to find a cardigan and practise saying "deep, deep, pleasure"*. Humph.

* this is a quote from one of the early tv series - I suspect Nigella Bites. Figman always says it mockingly when I mention the N-word because he thinks she became more about the "come-hither" and less about the food as the shows went on. And he couldn't stand the constant out-of-focus shots blurring all over the place. But he has never turned his precious nose up at anything I've cooked from her books.


At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Ellie said...

I've put off trying a roast chicken as I've not got a roasting tray (those big metal contraptions with what looks like a v-shaped cookie rack on top) - but I've just noticed you did yours without! If it worked that well for you (and the glistening chicken looks amazing), then perhaps me and my lasagne dish have a shot :D

At 1:24 PM, Blogger Niki said...

Yeah, I love her books and quite like the TV series, but I do see where people are coming from! They also have this image of Nigella only creating fat-laden chocolate cakes, which is far from the truth; she freely admits she doesn't have a sweet tooth and doesn't even like chocolate.
Anywaaaay- we must be on a similar winter wavelength because I've made that roast chicken recipe a couple of times in the past few months. I grew up eating roast chicken that, in retrospect, was overcooked and dry because mum was afraid of bacteria etc. I prefer my chicken very slightly underdone, and am happy to brave the consequences (so far ok!). I've also tried the method of shoving a can 1/2 filled with wine up its ar$e and roasting it standing up, which is fabulous! Crispy skin all over, and the steam from the evaporating liquid cooks from the inside and keeps it moist.
Although at the moment, roast chicken with skin is off the menu (and I don't want to think that depressing thought!)
And last night I also roasted carrots! Had forgotten the simple tasty pleasure they are!

At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Ellie said...

I've never heard of this can-up-chook's-ar$e version of roast chicken (and many thanks for causing me to almost spit my chai tea all over my keyboard! Hehehe!), sounds interesting?

Roast carrots are amazing - my local greengrocer has gotten some beautiful little dutch carrots in, so I'm planning on getting a bunch this weekend for some form of a roast ;) I might be daring and try parsnips? Ooooooo!

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Niki said...

Ellie - do a search for "beer can chicken" and you'll find lots of references and recipes. Apparently it's some old style southern USA way of cooking a chicken. I did a post about it too, but my pictures of it aren't that great.

At 12:02 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

You should try the roast chicken from Simon Hopkinson's "Roast Chicken and Other Stories". Simple but amazing. (I think my lovely partner emailed it to you in the Times list of cookbooks).

Oh, and the list is here if anyone wants it:,,2-1711218,00.html

I've been slowly collecting them and Nigel Slater is now my hero.

At 12:35 AM, Blogger thrillseeker said...

If youre an ANIMAL LOVER .....especiallly a chicken lover, take Nigella's tip and use Nando's Peri-Peri Sauces.
Nando's Peri-Peri Chicken Recipe is amazing.
I'm from London UK and am addicted to Nando's Peri-Peri Chicken.

At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you love roast chicken (as I do) then I highly recommend the 40 cloves of garlic chicken recipe. Basically, get a whole chicken (pref organic), wash and pat dry, put on tray, get about 2 whole bulbs of garlic, separate each clove out but leave the skin on, stick about 4-5 of them inside the chicken and scatter the rest around the tray, stick 1/2 a lemon also inside the chicken, then if you're a herby person like me, stick a bit of thyme and rosemary under the breast skin and in the thighs, splash a bit of olive oil over the top of the chicken and grind pepper/sprinkle salt over the top, and then whack it in the over for about 1hr 15 or so - and if you like you can put potatoes/carrots/onions/ay vegetable you like in the same tray so it all cooks together. The garlic perfumes and infuses the chicken and you get an amazing roast that's really easy. And you can squeeze the garlic out of the casings and eat it cos by then its gone all soft and gooey and caramelised.


Might just have to make the 'canned chicken' recipe - looks v funny!!!

At 12:10 PM, Blogger Philippa said...

Plum this had me drooling all over my keyboard!! I think it's lunch time!

At 5:12 PM, Blogger foodkitty said...

Damn those celebrity chefs, but Jamie Oliver shoves a lemon in the chook too. I think he either boils it or microwaves it first so that it goes in softer/warm and starts the cavity heating up sooner.
I'll try the wine-in-tin-can next, sounds promising.

At 1:15 AM, Blogger wayabetty said...

I was googling for Nigella's roasted chicken and found your post on it. Thanks! My hubbie and I watched the "chefography" about her life and we are totally in love with her and her cooking.

I'm going to try this recipe next week for the family and see how it turns out.

At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Bartenders License Online said...

This really looks delicious with lots of twists. I'm definitely craving for a plate of that right now. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. This is definitely a must do recipe this weekend since I got my Alcohol Server Certification.


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