Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sunday Roasts... Now Served on Tuesdays

Public holidays on a Tuesday, while welcome, do kind of mess with your system. It felt decidedly like a Sunday yesterday, so in keeping with the mood (and because it was "Freedom Day" and I was freely avoiding the work I'd brought home) I made roast chicken. There's nothing like a lazy Sunday roast, served with a chilled glass of rose, enjoyed in the sunshine on a breathless autumn day...

This is a recipe I picked up from one of my mum's (The Mother Bird) friends, about a decade ago. Mrs Gardner (yes, incidentally, she does have very green fingers) was my music teacher, and more often than not, there was some delicious smell wafting into the music room during my afternoon classes. On this occasion (which I remember so vividly – it's amazing what your senses absorb) she went to baste the chicken and told me the recipe. Sprinkled with brown onion soup and doused in orange juice (plus fresh oranges are in season now) I've adapted the recipe slightly (adding garlic, which I love with everything), but it's so simple and makes a moist roast and gravy, without using any additional fat.

* whole bird, rinsed and patted dry
* 4 onions, quartered
* 1 orange, halved
* packet brown onion soup mix
* 2 garlic cloves
* orange juice

Place the chicken in a casserole dish. Crush the garlic and spread over the chicken. Quarter one half of the orange, and stuff in the bird's cavity with one or two quarters of onion. Scatter the rest of the onion around the bird. Liberally sprinkle the chicken with about half a packet of brown onion soup and pour orange juice over the chicken and onions, so the onions are covered (this will eventually form your gravy). Slice the other half of the orange into circles, and cover the top of the chicken to keep the skin moist and infuse with orange (completely optional if oranges out of season). Put the lid on and cook for about 40 minutes in 200ÂșC oven. Take off the lid, baste the bird with the juice and cook without the lid on for about 30 minutes (basting once or twice during that time). Remove from oven and take the orange slices off the chicken, sprinkle with some more soup mix, baste once more and then turn on the grill to crisp the skin. Once it's looking nice and brown, remove from the oven, place on a serving dish with the caramelised onions and strain the gravy through a sieve into a serving jug. Add a little boiling water and the rest of the brown onion soup mix to taste, stirring until thickened and smooth. I served this with gravy-coated rice and steamed marrows and patty pans. Bon appetit!

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