“If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating centre, the sustainer of life and health.”
~ Shauna Niequist
I’m still getting over the flu, so I’m tired and useless and have no energy or brain for anything much at all. But we had friends arriving home to our village who’ve just been away at a family funeral. The thought of them arriving to a cold dark house and an empty fridge was just wrong. Anyway, they’re the kind of friends who don’t mind if I’m in my pyjamas or if I served them toast for dinner. Don’t you just love friends like that!
So I roasted some chickens and teamed it with baked vegetables and coleslaw. A simple meal. Easy to prepare and delicious. It also has the added benefit of giving me leftovers, and chicken frames to make stock tomorrow. Here’s my easy chicken stock recipe. I love cooking more than we need. That way the leftovers give me easy meals for days without much effort. I can have a plate of cold roast vegetables, chicken and salad for lunch, or put them in a wrap or sandwich. I can use the chicken meat in curries, pasta, soups and stir-fries for dinner. I can even use the leftovers in an omelette or frittata. Sounds good, doesn’t it!.
The butter, herbs and cider in this recipe keep the chicken moist and tender, and the flavour is fantastic. (So is the smell of the chicken roasting!)
Confession – my coleslaw is a packet of shredded raw ingredients from the supermarket tossed with some dressing, and Ben has chopped up the vegetables for me. But easy is good and if it means healthy eating I’m all for that! Prep time for the entire meal was ten minutes.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and this meal is easy enough for non-cooks to create with confidence. Maybe you can bake it for your mum, or for you!
- 1 or 2 whole chickens – preferably free range (I used two 1.5kg birds)
- fresh rosemary – enough for a tablespoon of chopped leaves and a sprig to place in the cavity of the chicken (Want to use another herb? Try Thyme, Sage or Parsley)
- 1 large lemon or two smaller ones – juice half and chop the other into quarters
- 1 small onion cut in half (I used half an enormous onion and cut that in half again)
- 2 tablespoons of butter per bird
- salt and pepper
- 1 small bottle of cider (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
- olive oil
1.Preheat your oven to moderate (180 degrees celcius or 350 degrees fahrenheit) – a little less if fan-forced.
2. Estimate your cooking time. You need 30 minutes for every 500 grams of body weight so a 1.5kg chicken will take 90 minutes to cook.
3. Lightly grease a large baking pan big enough to hold your chicken/s with olive oil
4. Wash the chickens well under cold running water, including the cavity and pat dry with a paper towel
5. Place chickens into the baking tray. Add the lemon, onion and sprig of herb to the cavity.
6. In a small saucepan (or you can microwave!) place the butter and lemon juice and gently melt together. Throw in the chopped herbs, mix well and then spoon over the chicken.
7. Season the top of the chicken with salt and freshly ground pepper.
8. Pour the bottle of cider into the bottom of the pan and place in the hot oven for thirty minutes.
9. After thirty minutes baste the chicken liberally by spooning the pan juices over the bird. Add any vegetables to the oven if you’re baking them.
10. Continue to baste the chicken at intervals of about fifteen minutes. This helps keep the meat moist and flavourful.
11. If the top of your chicken is browning too quickly cover with some aluminium foil and return to oven. (No need to baste further of you do this.)
12. After your cooking time is up check the chicken is cooked by seeing if the juices run clear when a knife or skewer inserted into the part of the chicken where the thigh meets the body. You can also test by gently easing the drumstick and thigh away from the body of the chicken and looking at the juices. There should be no pink at all.
13. Let the cooked chicken stand for ten minutes, and then serve. This helps the juices settle back into the meat so they don’t run everywhere when you carve the chicken, and it keeps the meat juicy and tender.
14. You can make a simple gravy with the pan juices if you want.