A classic dinner fit for a cold Sunday night.
1 1.5kg chicken
1 lemon, halved
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Rinse chicken, inside and out, then dry thoroughly with paper towels.
3. Pour 1 tbsp oil across base of baking dish. Place chicken in dish.
4. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over chicken, push the remains inside the chicken with the garlic and 1 sprig rosemary. Repeat with other half of lemon and the other rosemary sprig.
5. Tie legs of chicken together with cooking twine.
6. Rub 1 tbsp oil over chicken. Sprinkle with paprika, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Pour remaining oil over the chicken.
7. Bake chicken for 85-90 minutes, basting occasionally. Use a meat thermometer to check it has reached at least 80C and is fully cooked.
8. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Carve and serve.
Patting the chicken thoroughly dry inside and out ensures a crispy skin and prevents the flesh from steaming rather than roasting.
When applying the last tablespoon of oil, I find it easiest to use an olive oil spray.
Potatoes au Gratin
1 onion, halved, then thinly sliced
200gm grated cheese
Pinch ground nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 200C. Lightly grease a 15cm x 24cm baking dish.
2. Slice potatoes thinly.
3. Whisk cream with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
3. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion. Cook for 4 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat.
4. Arrange a layer of potatoes in baking dish. Top with a layer of onion and cheese. Drizzle with some cream.
5. Repeat layers until all ingredients have been used, keeping some cheese to go on top.
6. Cover dish with foil, place on a rack in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes – potatoes should be just tender.
7. Remove foil, and bake for a further 30 minutes or until golden and crispy. Serve.
I find prep for this takes about 20-30 minutes (there’s a lot of potato slicing), so it’s generally ready to put in the oven when the chicken still has an hour or so to go, which times out nicely.
Warm Vegetable Salad
1 red capsicum
1 yellow capsicum
1 small zucchini
2 small carrots
8 green beans
1 tbsp olive oil
10gm rocket, torn
1. Blanch the green beans for 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool.
2. Julienne all the vegetables to about the same length and thickness.
3. Heat the oil over a medium heat.
4. Raise the heat to high, add the vegetables, and cook for 2 minutes so they’re just softened.
5. Toss the vegetables with the rocket, season and serve warm.
I have a completely unreasonable bias against green capsicum – I just don’t like it. If you don’t share that bias, you could swap green capsicum for the green beans, requiring one less step while keeping the colour balance.
If I start making this when the potatoes and chicken have about 30 minutes to go, it’s generally ready when the chicken and potatoes are done. Ideally, the salad shouldn’t be allowed to cool too much before serving.
You could spice this up in various ways to give it a Spanish, South East Asian, Italian, North African, West African, or pretty much any cuisine flavour. Personally, with this meal I like to add a little slat and pepper but otherwise leave the freshness of the vegetables alone to balance the creaminess of the potatoes and the garlicky lemon of the chicken.