Jamie Oliver’s fantastic roasted chicken
For my birthday my mum sent me a copy of Jamie Oliver’s Return of the Naked Chef. The first thing I did was to check whether it contained Jamie’s recipe for roasted chicken (which I used to own in a copy of his first book back home). Well, it does. Probably too popular not to reprint. This was how I first encountered Mr. Oliver and his devil-may-care approach to gourmet cooking: an early episode of his TV show in which roasts a chook. Years later I remembered it well. He had made it look so easy that a few months back I decided to give it a shot by Googling the recipe. So firstly, what not to do…
Don’t ignore the difference between the size of the bird in the recipe and the size of the bird on your chopping block. I had to return the roasting dish to the oven three times before it was finally cooked all the way through. My friends were forced to content themselves with the vegetable dish and the appetizers. It was a weeknight. They left before the third firing. Who ever heard of a two-pound chicken anyway? Mine was a kosher American chicken, and it weighed a hell of a lot more than two pounds. Well, that was several months ago. I eventually got that chicken cooked and spent several days consuming it in solitude, during which time I learned a valuable lesson. The recipe is a corker.
This week I discovered the missing link: calculate twenty minutes per pound, and then add another 10-20 minutes. The Internet told me. My boss told me. I think this is common knowledge. Being a late bloomer, I learned it at about 11:00 p.m. last night. With Christmas day just around the corner, which event gives cause for Elena and me to celebrate the birth of not one but two outstanding Jews (Shoham and J.C.), I will be returning to Jamie’s signature dish, and this time I’m looking for a victory. Last night was my practice round.
The bare facts are these:
- 4.5 lb. organic bird (in supermarkets try the kosher section)
- 400ºF oven
- herb butter under the breast skin, two lemons in the cavity
- 40 minutes initial blasting
- parboil potatoes for 5-7 minutes
- add the veggies underneath and bake for another 60 minutes
The key is the butter and the lemons which keep everything amazingly moist. The protracted heat wave turns the skin of the chicken crispy and golden, and makes the tops of the potatoes and fennel slightly charred. Damn fine result. I always want to produce a dish in the fewest possible steps and for that you can’t go past Jamie Oliver’s recipes. Oh, and that thing about chicken cooking really fast may be true when it’s chopped up in pieces in a Thai curry, but in oven roasting land the rule is 20/lb. + 20. So now we know.