Autumn is an ideal time to get together with friends or family and enjoy the luxury of a roast chicken dinner. The weather is starting to cool a little and it is time to dust off the roasting dish and settle in for a good long lunch (or dinner).
We have your whole meal covered, the roasted bird, vegetables and a delicious quince tart for dessert! If you lucky you could not only win your chicken but also a gorgeous new roasting pan and carving set, just enter into our prize draw below.
Selecting your bird
Running out of food is every cook’s nightmare so we suggest being generous with your quantities, who doesn’t love leftovers?
A size 16 chicken serves around 5 people, a size 18 around 7.
For a large group you can either cook two chickens side by side.
To prepare your chicken
Take the chicken out of the fridge at the same time as you turn the oven on to 180°C (bake setting). Remove the chicken from its bag (this is best done over the sink), pat it dry with paper towels and then place the chicken breast side up in a roasting dish and rub all over with olive oil. Stuff the chicken with the prepared stuffing (see our recipe for prosciutto, thyme and lemon stuffing) or alternatively pop a wedge of lemon and a few cloves of sliced garlic into the cavity. Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To cook your chicken
When the oven is heated, sit the roasting dish (with chicken) onto the middle shelf or slightly lower and cook for 1 ½ hours (for a size 16, adjust time according to size) or until juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.
Once the chicken has been in the oven for 45 minutes, peel and chop potatoes, rinse them and pat dry. Place the potatoes around the chicken and continue to cook.
Peel and chop the kumara and chop pumpkin into wedges. Halve or quarter onions, chop garlic bulbs in half and de-seed and slice some red pepper.
Give the potatoes 15 minutes head start before adding the rest of the vegetables to the pan as well. Make sure the vegetables are in a single layer and turn them a couple of times during cooking. If your pan is over crowded then you may want to cook vegetables on a different shelf or even bring out the electric frying pan!
To rest your chicken
Once the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a serving plate cover loosely with foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes before carving. Let the roasting vegetables continue to cook or if they are already tender then transfer them to an oven proof dish, turn the oven off and let the vegetables sit in the oven for a few minutes until you are ready (pop the dinner plates into the oven at the same time to warm them).
Vegetables and Gravy
Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and cook beans or any other greens for a few minutes until almost tender, drain vegetable cooking water into a jug.
Pour the juices from the roasting pan into a heat proof jug (pyrex is ideal for this). Scoop fat off as it rises and discard (adding an ice cube to the liquid can help to quickly solidify the fat and remove).
Place the pan on the stove top on low heat and pour in the skimmed pan juices along with 2 tablespoons of flour per cup of gravy required. Using a metal spoon stir until the mixture thickens and then slowly pour in vegetable cooking water (1 cup per 2 tablespoons of flour) while continuously stirring to avoid lumps, until the gravy boils and thickens. Taste gravy and season as needed, pour into a jug to serve.
Slice the breast meat from the chicken and carve off the legs and wings. Serve meat with a spoonful of stuffing, a selection of vegetables and a generous drizzle of gravy.
In recent years this beautifully fragrant fruit has truly become the fruit of autumn. The fluffy yellow orbs hang off trees looking nothing like the ruby red fruit that long slow cooking develops. This tart is easy to make and while lusciously creamy it is not too rich allowing room for the possible chocolate egg….
Quince Ricotta Tart