The summer holidays are torture. They are! I don’t care what anyone says. I raise my hat to all single mums and dads who have to juggle work and kids. Especially when living on a tight budget.
My kids have a pretty low bar when it comes to entertainment. Last year we went to the car wash, they were beside themselves! In fact they liked it so much the first time, we went back at the end of the holidays and I packed popcorn!
Usually entertainment for my family involves some kind of eating experience. Going out for lunch is a treat and happens rarely but when it does happen the kids are beside themselves
Dalston is great for cheap eats. The Red Art Cafe is mine and my kids favourite. I can feed the rabble and have a glass of wine for under 20quid. My kids love the jacket potatoes (they are huge) and they come with a really delicious salad of grated carrot, lettuce, beetroot and have a great tangy dressing.
I would like to say that my kids were appreciative wonderful darlings after that experience….Hmm well lets just say the day ended with the two girls standing in the doorway of their bedroom shoutiing “Your the worst mummy in the world and we are never speaking to you again”!! The small one even agreed with a “Yeah”. Oh its so rewarding being a mum……
I am rewarding you with a basic recipe for roast chicken with roast veg. It is a staple in my house and if you are on a budget then one chicken goes very far. A chicken in my house has about 3 incarnations before its tired dry bones finally get trashed! I stir fry the meat with noodles, cover the carcass with water throw some root veg in unpeeled with a few peppercorns and bay, simmer for an hour or so. You then have a base for a soup. I throw rice in and more veg to make a hearty soup.
Kids at the Red Art Cafe Dalston
A holiday treat. Bounty Bars
I designed a wedding this week
Poor Lola my trustee assistant helped me deliver the wedding. She was up early!
Roast Chicken with Roast Potatoes and Roast Parsnips
This is a simple Roast lunch/dinner which will also provide left over’s for lunch or supper the next day. All you need are a few tips in order to get the best out of your bird.
For the Roast Chicken
- 1 Free Range / Organic Chicken
- Olive Oil
- 1 Bulb of Garlic (optional)
- 1 Lemon (optional)
- Salt and Pepper
For the Roast Potatoes
- Maris Piper Potatoes (1-1.5 per person)
- Goose Fat or Vegetable Oil
- Cornmeal or Polenta
- Sea Salt
For the Roast Parsnips
- Parsnips (1-1.5 per person)
- Veg Oil
- Runny Honey
- Sea Salt
For the Gravy
- 1 Brown Onion (optional)
- Cornflour or Plain Flour about a Tablespoon
- Stock Cube and hot water (optional)
- Salt and Pepper
Timing is everything with a Roast Dinner, here are a few tips to help you plan your meal.
- Take your bird out of the fridge at least half an hour before putting in the oven. This will help shorten the time the bird needs in the oven.
- Pat the chicken dry, and sprinkle with Sea Salt, this will give your roast bird a lovely crisp skin
- A bulb of garlic sliced in half and half a lemon inside the chicken, not only flavours the chicken from the inside, but also enhance any soup or left over dish you make the next day.
- To check that your bird is cooked through, you can use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the bird (thigh or breast). Or you can insert a knife between the thigh leg and breast of the bird, if the juices run clear then your bird is cooked. You can also insert a sharp knife into the thickest part of the bird and place it very briefly (flat side down) on your lip, if it makes you go “Ow”, the bird is cooked
- Cut your potatoes and any Veg you are roasting the same size to enable them to cook at the same time.
- Add a sprinkling of dry herbs such as Rosemary, Thyme, Sage before you roast the vegetables. The herbs taste wonderful with all roast veg
Temp 180.C Gas Mark 6
Place your bird on in a roasting dish which is just a bit bigger then the bird itself. Season the bird inside (with Salt and Pepper) and fill the cavity with a bulb of garlic halved and half a lemon (optional). Drizzle some olive oil on the bird and season well with salt. Place in the oven and Roast for 1hr and 20 mins. Check after an hour and give it a baste with the juice if you wish. When the Chicken is cooked take it out of the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest for 20mins before carving.
Peel and cut your potatoes into 3rds, you want the maximum amount of surface area on each potato in order to get lots of crunch. Place the cut potatoes into a pan with plenty of salty water and gently boil until the potatoes are beginning to soften around the edges and they are halfway cooked. While your potatoes are cooking now you should be heating the oil or goose fat.
If you are lucky enough to have a separate oven then put the heat on maximum and place a good cup or so of oil into the pan, or your goose fat. Heat the oil until it is smoking or as near to smoking as you can get it. If you don’t have a separate oven, place the roasting dish on the top shelve of the oven at the same time you put the roast in
When your potatoes are ready drain and give them a gentle shake in the colander so the edges become ruffled (maximum crispiness with occur with this method). Sprinkle a handful or so of Cornmeal onto the potatoes, this enables a crust to form on the potatoes, you don’t have to do this but somehow it feels wrong not to.
Gently tip the potatoes (away from you) into the hot oil and place back in the oven until brown and crispy on the outside. This should take 45mins to an hour depending on how hot your oven is.
There is nothing to stop you placing the parsnips into the goose fat or oil with the potatoes. If your pan is big enough just add them to their own side of the pan. Admittedly if you are coating your Parsnips with Honey, they may char a little but that has never bothered me.
If you wish your Parsnips to roast independently then take your Parsnips and cut them in half, then half again lengthwise. You can peel them if you want to, I don’t bother unless they are particularly woody. Place all your quarters in a roasting dish and drizzle them with vegetable oil and honey, toss them until they are slick and coated then season with salt.
Place in a hot oven for half an hour to 45mins until they are crisp and golden.
Gravy from your Roast Chicken
I sometimes quarter an unpeeled brown onion, and throw the pieces in to the roasting dish with the chicken, this adds flavour and colour to the Chicken juices, which in turn adds flavour and colour to your gravy.
When the chicken is cooked remove the chicken and cover with foil tip the juices from the pan (remove the onion if using) into a pyrex jug. Tip off the excess oil which will float to the top. The rest of the liquid is pure flavour. I simply place the roasting dish on top of the stove on a low heat and tip a tablespoon of corn flour or plain flour into the pan and mix it around scraping and picking up as much of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan then very slowly return the juices back to the pan, stirring fast so the gravy doesn’t form any lumps. Turn the heat up to medium and keep stirring until the gravy thickens. Taste and if need be add a little more stock (hot water and a stock cube will do). Adjust the seasoning and pour into a jug and serve.