Chinese food on Friday and a roast chicken dinner just two days later for two of my best girlfriends. I love a roast dinner more than anything. Being a Newfoundlander and Labradorian I was raised on traditional boiled dinner every Sunday…root vegetables boiled in a pot with salt beef and maybe some dressing, peas pudding and a chicken or some other roast meat to go with it. Shamefully, this is something I have never made. It just seems to me it’s something mom or nan or dad does. But a roast dinner is something I do quite a bit. For friends or just for myself…keeps well in the fridge, usually tastes better the next day, and a full roast chicken dinner will yield five good helpings and a couple of sandwiches, depending on how hungry your company is. One of the most delicious meals you can make, and one that usually impresses with very little effort.
Toss some root vegetables (I used potatoes, parsnips and carrots) with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Put them in a roasting pan and tackle the chicken (figuratively of course, unless you have live chickens in your backyard, in which case, good on you, I wish I could kill a chicken). I used to throw out that gross little bag of giblets that only dads or pops eat as a weird sort of appetizer to the main meal. That is until Nigel Slater taught me to use them to make gravy. He wasn’t at my house for tea or anything, I read it in one of his cookbooks. Anyways, put the giblets in a pot of water with some onions, carrots, a bay leaf, boil it on the stove for the duration of the meal prep and poof-a stock for gravy. You too can fall in love with giblets! Place the chicken in the roaster with the veg and stuff it with some garlic cloves, rosemary stalks, and a lemon cut in a few chunky pieces…give them a squeeze when you put them in the cavity to release some of the juice. Put some garlic cloves and rosemary under the skin of the chicken, drizzle the whole thing with olive oil and salt and pepper and (you’re not done yet) cover every inch of the chicken in slices of bacon. Bacon really does make everything better and what it does to the drippings for the gravy is something that needs to be tasted to be believed.
Cover the roaster (foil is fine over a deepish pan if you don’t a have a roaster with a cover) and cook everything for about an hour on 375 and then uncovered for another half hour or so until everything is nice and crispy and golden. I’ll usually baste a couple of times during cooking and maybe give the veg a bit of a stir so they brown up evenly. For the gravy I’ll toss in a bouillon cube, drippings and a dash or two of worcestershire sauce before I thicken the whole thing with a bit of cornstarch. Dressing on the side (stuffing for those of you not from Newfoundland and Labrador) if you like, but not necessary if you’re pressed for time. A really nice meal and a great excuse to drink a bottle of wine on a Sunday afternoon.