Roast chicken and other stories

I’m writing a cook book. Its going to be epic. With funny anecdotes that make me look witty, well travelled and cool, brilliant recipes and beautiful photos that my good pal Ben will be taking (he doesn’t know yet though).

I know what you’re thinking.

Yep, there will be some pictures of me, looking pensively at some fishing boats. Me, surrounded by sexy friends, handing out authentic Burmese street food. Me, in chef’s whites shouting out orders in a bustling kitchen- ‘Yes Chef!’ That sort of thing. Pucker.

And it will definitely lead to a book deal and a spot on Saturday kitchen doing omelette challenges. Because thats what Chefs do now. On my first day at my last job the manager introduced me to a prominent customer as ‘Luke, the new Head Chef’. Sheila- her name was Sheila, looked me up and down, and then said, singularly unimpressed,  ’Well I havent seen him on TV’ and flounced off. What do you say to that? Where do you start? ‘Ummm sorry Sheila… your contempt and disgust can only ever mirror my own self-loathing. Please for the love of all thats holy forgive my pathetic and unsuccessful career. Would you like a bun?’

Thats the expectation on Chefs now. ‘This is Ian, he’s our new accountant/teacher/fireman/lawyer…..’

‘Pffft, rubbish……..I haven’t seen Ian on TV…… NEXT!’ Wouldn’t happen would it?

Simon Hopkinson is brilliant. I WOULD like to be like him. If you haven’t already, go and buy a copy of his book ‘Roast Chicken and other stories’ He writes evocatively and beautifully about the food that fills his heart and soul with joy. Roast Chicken, custard, potato salad…. simple delicious things. Foam is anathema to him. So to, Jus. He wails at the fads in food- when did we start cooking EVERYTHING in olive oil? When did dishes become ‘pan fried’ and ‘oven roasted’.  Where else in God’s name would you fry something if not a pan? A tea pot?

The poetry of his writing beguiles me.

It curiously transpired that it was a certain Iris Pringle, the Anglo-Indian cook of a restaurant in the town of Knutsford, Cheshire, who first taught me how to make a real curry’”

This is writing in the realms of William Trevor and PG Wodehouse. It is real and moving. Not like Gordon and Nigella’s ghost-written tat.

This is his favourite recipe.

‘Roasting a chicken is a joy for me; and if I am pressed to name my favourite food then roast chicken it must be’

  • 100g good butter, at room temperature
  • 1.8kg free-range chicken
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • some thyme and tarragon
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and  crushed

Preheat the oven to 230. Smear the butter with your hands all over the bird. Put the chicken in a roasting tin that will accommodate it with room to spare. Season liberally with salt and pepperand squeeze over the juice of the lemon. Put the herbs and garlic inside the cavity, together with the squeezed out lemon- this will add a fragrant lemony flavour to the finished dish.

Roast the chicken for 10-15 minutes. Baste, then turn the oven temperature down to 190 and roast for a further 30-45 minutes with further occasional basting. The bird should be golden brown all overwith a crisp skin and have buttery, lemony juices of a nut brown colour in the bottom of the tin.

Leave to rest and relax for 15 minutes and use the juices as gravy.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.