Recipe: Roast Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

This classic recipe is something I’ve been wanting to make for a while. I’d read about it occasionally in foodie magazines, there’s variations featured in a couple of my cookbooks. But I’ve always been a bit scared to try it. I mean, I love garlic but 40 cloves!? Every part of my brain said it wouldn’t work, but eventually I gathered up the courage and just gave it a go. And I’m sure glad I did!

Instead of being harshly garlicky, the slower simmering of the cloves means the garlic cooks down and becomes sweet and fragrant. The chicken is tender and moist, to the point of falling apart. The sauce is light, yet flavourful. Served with mashed potato (with some of the soft garlic stirred through) and green vegetables, I find this is the perfect summery alternative to a more traditional roast chicken.

Recipe – 1 large chicken would served 5/6 (or gives plenty of leftovers)

  • 5-6 banana shallots peeled and halved lengthways
  • 1 whole chicken
  • ½ lemon
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 40 garlic cloves (I used 3 bulbs), unpeeled
  • 1 small glass of white wine
  • 250ml chicken stock (from a cube is fine, homemade is extra yummy)
  • 1 tbsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tbsp crème fraîche

Remove any string from the chicken and place the lemon inside the cavity. Generously season the chicken inside and out with plenty of salt and pepper. Heat the butter and oil in a large flameproof casserole. Brown the chicken over a medium-high heat for a couple of minutes on each side. Add the whole garlic cloves and shallots to the casserole, nestling around the chicken, and poking some of the garlic inside the cavity with the lemon.

Pour over the wine and chicken stock. Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid and bring the liquid to a simmer on the hob, then transfer to the oven and cook for 1¼ hours at 200C. Check that the chicken is cooked by piercing the thickest part of the thigh and ensuring the juices are clear.

Transfer the chicken to a warmed plate to rest whilst you make the sauce. Skim off any fat in the casserole pan and discard, then return to the hob and stir in the tarragon and crème fraîche. Squeeze in half of the garlic cloves (reserving the rest for another day, or use in the mashed potato). Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, stirring, then season to taste and serve alongside the chicken.

Not only does this dish taste delicious, but the cooking smells are insanely good!

Are you a fan of Sunday roasts, or do you like to mix things up a bit?

Recipe: Roast Lamb & The Ultimate Shepherd’s Pie

Following on from my basic Roast Chicken and favourite Brisket, another roast me and W conquered over the summer is lamb. Probably the most expensive we cooked portion-wise, it was a bit of a splurge but all the more delicious for it. At about £7 for a half a shoulder, this did us two eat-until-we’re-stuffed meals. As both of the dishes were quite heavy and warming I’ve waited until now to share them – they are perfect comfort food for this time of year!

 photo Ultimate Shepherds Pie_zpswhqd0t1r.jpgThe roast lamb is tender, melt-in-the-mouth and perfectly flavoured – meaty but with a decent herby kick too. However I think the real star here is the Shepherd’s Pie. Inspired by Jamie’s recipe (as always!) it is an indulgent version of one of my childhood favourites. Seriously, why did I never think to line the dish with potato all the way round?! Coupled with cheese and breadcrumbs this makes for a crunchy casing surrounding an intense filling. Worth the stressful few hours in the kitchen to make, though I would perhaps avoid doing so in the summer heat again…

All quantities below serve two; two for a greedy roast, two for a comforting pie. I reckon this would be pretty easy to scale up though!

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Ingredients (Roast Lamb)

  • 1 half lamb shoulder
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • Lamb stock (1 litre)
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour

Ingredients (Shepherds Pie)

  • Potatoes (I do around 250g unpeeled each)
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 slice bread, whizzed into crumbs
  • 75g coarsely grated cheddar
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

Drizzle the lamb with a little oil, season with salt and pepper, and rub to coat. Tear over some fresh rosemary, then place in a roasting tin on top of the onions. Add a splash of water to the tray, loosely cover with greaseproof paper, and roast at 170C for two-three hours, removing the cover for the final 45 minutes. The lamb should be very tender, almost falling off the bone.

Make your gravy by removing the lamb and keeping warm. Spoon off any excess fat from the pan, then place on the hob over a medium heat. Add two tablespoons of flour and fry, stirring constantly, for two minutes before gradually adding the stock. Strain through a sieve, making sure to save a good amount for the pie.

 photo Roast Lamb and Ultimate Shepherds Pie 1_zpsx0ffadxs.jpg photo Roast Lamb and Ultimate Shepherds Pie 2_zps50sulq1m.jpgAfter eating the roast, roughly chop any leftover meat, and chill or freezer along with the leftover gravy. On pie day, fry the vegetables in oil (or any reserved lamb fat) until soft and golden. Add the lamb, half of the gravy and a little rosemary and simmer until you have a thick stew like consistency. Meanwhile peel and boil potatoes, before mashing and leaving to cool.

Assemble the pie by brushing the dish with a little oil. Lightly coat with breadcrumbs, sprinkle over a little cheese, then press half of the potato around the dish to form the sides and base. Spoon in the meat-veg filling, top with the remaining mash, cheese and breadcrumbs, then bake at 180C for 1 hour, until golden and crisp. Enjoy with the leftover gravy.

 photo Roast Lamb and Ultimate Shepherds Pie 5_zpsr7c7bfzf.jpg photo Roast Lamb and Ultimate Shepherds Pie 7_zpsdtlytllf.jpgWhilst definitely a bit of a splurge, I do love lamb – I only wish I could have it more often. Whilst it took quite a bit of time, the pie was a great way to stretch the leftovers a bit further whilst still being really indulgent, perfect really!

What’s your favourite roast meat? Have you made anything really delicious with your leftovers?

Recipe: Garlic And Herb Roasted Chicken

I have another favourite blog I want to share with you, Lavender and Lovage, this time through the guise of their monthly cooking challenge to cook/bake with herbs. This month I am taking part with one of best dishes I’ve ever made, and the first roast chicken I have ever, ever cooked. To say I was excited at this feat would be a rather large understatement.

I have always been really cautious about cooking chicken in general, checking it multiple times to ensure it is properly cooked (and thus serving up overcooked tough meat in the process) and before summer I would have never cooked a whole chicken. I then found this recipe on the lovely Lottie’s blog and resolved to make it over my holiday. Then my operation got in the way of things, and I didn’t get the chance. Until my turn to cook Sunday dinner in my house. I decided to test my meat cooking skills on my housemates who probably weren’t of full realisation that they were at risk of food poisoning. Luckily that didn’t happen!

This chicken turned out to have a lovely flavour, and was incredibly moist. I would have liked it to get a bit more bronze and crisp…but I’m blaming the oven for that one! If you have never roasted a chicken before, I highly recommend you try this recipe as I think the coating really stops it from drying out. Definitely a hit!

And on the thrifty-ness, saving money, budgetting side – I really think a whole chicken is great value for money! Our large chicken cost us £4.57. It fed five people at dinner, and then I filled three freezer bags of shredded meat for use in stir fries etc at a later date. Pretty sure spending £4.50 on chicken breasts would not get 8 meals! Per serving that equals 57p, which is a bargain in my books! I’d have loved to have made a stock out of the bones, but unfortunately I didn’t have a pan big enough to do so – that will be a holiday project I think!

Ingredients

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  • 1 whole chicken – it should be at room temperature when you start cooking, so take it out of the fridge about 90 minutes before
  • 300ml of creme fraiche
  • 5 cloves of garlic (I upped the amount!)
  • Some fresh herbs – I chose to use thyme (which I got at a marvelous discounted price in Waitrose) and some rosemary
  • A little oil

So how do you make a flavourful and moist roast chicken? Read on!

Preheat your oven to 180C. Lightly grease a roasting tin, pat your chicken dry with kitchen towel, and place in the tin.

Make the coating – finely chop the garlic, and the herbs (we used about four sprigs of each), and add to a bowl with the creme fraiche. Mix together well.

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Untie your birds legs, and stuff some of the creme fraiche mixture into the cavity. I warn you this isn’t the most pleasant experience!

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Smother the rest of the creme fraiche mixture all over the rest of the bird. Massage it in and, if you can, get some under the skin.

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When your chicken is fully covered, it should look a little like this:

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Add some less finely chopped herbs to the top, just for fancy-pants decoration.

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Then roast for the length of time your chicken packaging should indicate. Ours took 1 hour and 45 minutes.

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If you check out Lottie’s post, you will see how it SHOULD look. Crisp and bronze – not pale and insipid! But mine still tasted good, it just lacked the visual wow factor…

Resist temptation to dive straight in – cover with foil and leave to rest for 10-20 minutes (we used this time to crisp up our potato dauphinoise). Then carve up and serve.

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Remember to strip off all the meat from the bones – it would make great sandwiches, and I’ve shredded it for use in stir fries and maybe a risotto in the coming weeks.

So that’s it, a simple and delicious garlic and herb roast chicken recipe. Don’t be like me and let a fear of food poisoning put you off cooking whole pieces of meat – I really regret not doing this sooner!

Does anyone have an other easy and delcious roast chicken recipes?