Well, with the weather being as hot as it has been the very last thing you’d want is to cook an entire roast dinner. Too much, right? But. What if you just freaking love chicken? Or, what if you’re a bit poor and can’t afford some of the fancy-schmancy stuff Che has been putting up in these “how tos”?

Chicken it is.

Here I’ve defrosted a cheap chicken I bought from the supermarket. Frankly, it’s not as nice as some kind of corn-fed, free-range son of a gun from your local farmer, but it’s still chicken, right?

And for this recipe you’ll only need a couple of things. Your chook. A bit of citrus (here I’ve opted for tangelo), and an onion. Oh, and salt/olive oil.

#1. Set your oven to bake on the magical temperature of 180 Celsius.

And now for the for the tricky stuff. You need to prepare your chook. So get it out of the packing, and rinse it really well in fresh water. Then, fold the wings in.

What I’ve done here is extend the wing, then fold it under and around so that the wingtip tucks over the shoulder. The trick is not to force it to do so. It just kind of slips into place. Imagine you’re trying to touch your thumb-tips together behind your back, and make the bird do that.

Next, take your citrus, and carefully stab it full of holes. The idea is to pierce the citrus skin so tat all the juices cook out and into the flesh of the chook, keeping it juicy and extremely delicious.

Make sure you’ve stabbed the citrus all round the circumference, then whack it into the stomach cavity of the chook. If it’s too big to fit? Then you should have used a smaller tangelo/lemon…

The next thing is to cut an onion in half, and put it cut side first into the cavity. Cut side first is important, because next is the really tricky bit.

What you’ll do next is tie the cavity shut by crossing the chooks legs. This is the bit that impresses people. You can do this if you’ve used traditional stuffing as well.

Here’s how. When they clean the chook they leave these big “flaps” of skin attached. What you want to do is get rid of any excess fat that might be attached to the flap, then make a small incision, maybe 1-1 1/2cm. Be careful of fingers.

Then, really carefully, slip the knuckle of the leg through the incision you’ve made. You have to be careful, because it’s easy to tear the skin, and then you’re sunk. Once you get the first incision done, extend out the second flap, and repeat. Viola!

It is seriously tricky… The main thing is to keep the first incision really close to the edge of the flap. That way you’ve room to get the second leg “folded”.

If you screw it up, just pull the flaps together and stick a bamboo skewer through then to keep them closed.

Then liberally apply salt, cover the whole thing generously with olive oil, and bang it in the oven!

Now, what you’ll notice about this chicken is that I’ve put in the oven breast down. There’s a couple of schools of thought on this one, but I prefer breast down because it forces all the juices from the citrus to pool behind the skin. This keeps the breast moist, which is important when you’re cooking a cheap chook.

And how long in the oven? Well, the Edmonds Cookbook says 20 minutes per 500g, then 20 minutes. So, this 1.5kg bird should be in there for about 80 minutes. Easy, right?

Not really. This is my bird here on the right after 60 mins. It’s started to get a bit of colour around the flanks. But, obviously not cooked. I’m a little suspicious at this point, because it should be darker by now.

Here’s my bird after 80 mins on the left. And, I apply the test to see if it’s cooked.

While the chook is still in the tray, stab it at the joints, and see if a liquid runs out. The photo on left is a stab towards the bone just below the hip, and you an make out the redness around the knife.

This is a bad thing. Chook is not cooked. I’m guessing that the tangelo has taken a long time to soak up heat, and has slowed down the roasting. But is this a problem? No! Just put it back in until the skin is properly crisp. I put this back in for another 10-15 mins, and it seemed to be peachy.

That’s the downside with buying cheap food. Sometimes they don’t cook well. This still needed a little more, but the breast was cooked, and I was blimmin hungry.

And how to eat a roast in this weather? Simple! Let the chook rest for a couple of minutes, then carve it, or shred it with your hands. Then! Put it all on a plate, and eat with salad sandwiches! Enjoy!

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