Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Slow roast orange, lemon, thyme and garlic chicken

This dish sums up everything I love about family cooking. It is incredibly simple and yet tastes amazing and most of the effort is done by the oven which just slowly cooks it over several hours. It also doesn't need to be rescued from the oven as soon as the time is up which gives you time if timings for eating get thrown (which is often the way when you have children especially when you are entertaining!)

You can either use a large whole chicken and cut it into pieces or you can buy chicken pieces. I prefer using brown meat for this dish (thighs, wings, drumsticks) since they seem to remain more tender so I tend to just buy pieces. For 4 adults and 4 children I use about 1.8kg of chicken (bone in) (and this all tends to go) but just adapt it to how many you are feeding and how hungry they all are.

Begin by preheating the oven to 160 degrees C. Don't be tempted to put it higher and cook the dish for less time since it just will not work as well. This is a SLLLLLOOOOWWWW cooked meal!

Get a large roasting tray and lay all the chicken pieces in the tray skin-side up. Take a whole bulb of garlic and break it into cloves (smash it on a surface and then they just separate) and add this to the chicken with their skin still on. Take one lemon and one orange, wash under warm water to remove any coating and chop into chunks (skin and all) and then add this to the dish (you can use just lemons though this can be quite sharp or just oranges or even increase the amount of both you use to taste). Scatter over a bunch of thyme and then add 3 tbsp olive oil and about 300ml white wine (you can use apple juice instead if you prefer).

Give everything a good mix and then spread it evently across the tray keeping the chicken skin side up. Give everything a good season.

Wrap really tightly in foil (shiny side facing inwards) and put this in the oven.

Then just leave it for 2 hours. The smell is just amazing!

After two hours remove the foil, give everything a quick baste. Raise the oven heat to 200 degrees C and return the chicken to the oven. It will now all crisp up and some of the oranges and lemons will start to caramelise. Cook for about 35 minutes.

Once everything is nicely browned you can serve immediately or it will rest quite happily in the oven (turn it off and leave the door open so it is just warm).

Serve with potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Everything should be served- including the herbs and oranges, lemon and garlic which will all have slow cooked. Also make sure everyone gets some of the gorgeous juices.

Really really delicious and appeals to kids and adults alike. It is also really lovely once it is cold and can be served with picnics and BBQs.

Til soon....

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