Hello, hello, hello!
Last weekend I decided to attempt roasting a chicken for the first time. Some more experienced home cooks out there might be scoffing, wondering what all the fuss is about. But I have never roasted a chicken before. In fact if I cook chicken in the oven it tends to be in some sort of casserole, or a dish that doesn’t require much testing or thought – or for me to touch raw chicken. But despite my abhorrence of raw meat in general, I was won over by the budget prices of a roast chicken dinner made from scratch and the fact that my best friend Mrs E has had a lot of luck cooking and freezing birds to use in lots of different recipes herself.
But I couldn’t find a recipe that look reliable, or that answered a lot of my questions about how to get that soft, succulent meat and avoid undercooking the bird. So I turned instead to Mrs E and our old family friend Polly. Polly, as older readers of mine might be aware, often put on the Christmas feasts my family and I used to go to. But what readers might not know is that Polly is a culinary genius. Some of my favourite food memories revolve around meals she’s made – her special roasts or amazing trays of baked potatoes, her chocolate pots, and more. She’s been a huge source of inspiration for me since I was little, like my maternal Grandma. So I was thrilled to get her advice.
Polly had also given me her recipe for a Tarragon Mustard Cream Sauce. This sauce was her own invention, but was the highlight of all my roast or barbecue chicken meals at her house. You could serve it over hot chicken, cold chicken, roast chicken or barbecue chicken. You could even serve it over turkey! No matter what it was delicious! So I thought – I want, nay need, to make that for myself. It’s so amazingly good. So Polly sent me her method for roasting a chicken, and answered all my questions, and now I want to share what she’s given me with all of you, with some tips of my own!
Roast Chicken and Vegetables with Tarragon Mustard Cream Sauce
Serves: 4-5, Prep: 25-35 mins, Cook: 1hr 20-25 mins
Roast Chicken and Vegetables Ingredients
- 1 whole chicken, preferably at least about 1.6kg (cook times will vary for bigger or smaller chooks)
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 onion, peeled
- 2-3 white potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 3 carrots, and halved (You don’t have to peel these if you don’t want to, just make sure to wash them)
- 2 onions (extra), peeled and cut into halves
- Plus any other vegetables you like to roast
- Small spoonful of butter (I used nuttelex)
- 1 clove of garlic/1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 generous pinch of dried tarragon
- 1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup chicken stock, or 1/4 of the juices of the roast chicken
- 1/4 cup thickened cream (I used Zymil’s lactose free thickened cream)
- Preheat the oven to 200C fan-forced (or 220C conventional). Set aside a plate covered in paper towel and roasting pan. If your pan has a rack or something to stand the chicken and vegetables on, you can put about a half a cup of water at the bottom – to help keep the chicken moist while cooking. But as my roasting pan didn’t I left the water out.
- Toss the vegetables in oil, and then lay them in the pan around the outside edge.
- Rub the chicken all over with olive oil (or melted butter if you’d prefer), and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Stuff the half a lemon and half an onion inside the cavity of the chicken. You can use toothpicks to hold it shut, but I didn’t find this necessary. Polly also doesn’t fuss with tying the legs together, so I didn’t bother with that either.
- Pop the chicken in the roasting pan, breast side down.
- Cook for about 20 mins, and then flip the chicken over so it’s breast side up. Turn the vegetables over as well.
- Cook for a further 40 mins.
- NOTE: If you can, Polly advises turning the chicken onto the four sides for 15-20 mins each, to ensure even cooking. But because of me not wanting to bend to pull the pan out too often I only turned it the once.
- Test the chicken with a skewer by poking into the deepest, meatiest part you can find – like the thickest part of the thigh. You should see all these juices come out where you poked the chicken, and if those juices are clear the chicken is cooked. If the juices are at all pink it needs more cooking.
- I popped mine back into the oven for a further 10 minutes at this stage just to get everything really very crispy. But you don’t have to.
- Remove from the oven.
- Remove the vegetables to the plate lined with paper towel to drain, but let the chicken rest for 10 mins.
- You can then tip out the juices from the pan to make the sauce!
- In a saucepan melt the spoonful of butter over medium heat.
- Add the garlic, tarragon and dijon mustard and stir. Let it bubble for a few moments.
- Then add in the chicken sauces, or chicken stock if you’d prefer. Add in the cream, and cook over low heat, stirring, until the sauce has thickened.
- Serve drizzled over the carved up chicken!