Is roast chicken the ultimate comfort food ?

by grainnep

I went to gymnastics today, the first class in quite a while and I’m already feeling the effects. My legs are jelly and my arms are starting to feel it after lots of handstand turns… and falls.  I like it thought, reminds me that my body can still work hard,When you think of when you were little and could do handstands all day and not feel any pain! So I need something comforting and I immediately think of roast chicken, the easiest meal to get in the oven and nothing like it, soft juicy flesh, and full of flavour if you have the right bird. I had a corn fed free range chicken, more expensive than the usual but twice the size and doesn’t shrink during cooking. Stuffed with a mediterannean style stuffing, some fondant sweet potato and fennel parmigiana, just the job for a sore body…

I haven’t given a cooking time for the chicken, I use a meat thermometer and cook the bird using that. Ensure your juices run clear if you don’t have one. For a 2kg chicken it is about 1.5 hours if stuffed.

 Stuffing for the chicken
1 onion finely chopped
4 Cloves garlic finely chopped
9oz cherry tomatoes deseeded and chopped
3oz feta cheese
10oz good quality bread crumbs
3 tbsp of mint and parsley chopped
1 egg beaten
1 tbsp tomato puree mixed with 2 tbsp olive oil
Fry the onion gently in 2 tbsp olive oil
Add the garlic and gently fry for a few more minutes
Add the cherry tomatoes and continue to fry gently until soft
In a bowl mix the stuffing, the feta and herbs,
Add the tomato puree and olive oil, the beaten egg and the tomato mix
Mix well and use to stuff the bird, in the cavity and or under the skin of the 2 breasts.,
Season the bird and rub with olive oil and roast until cooked through.

Fennel Parmigiana ‘’Finocchio alla parmigiana”
Serves 4
1 lb fennel
3oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
4oz butter
Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Meanwhile, wash and trim the fennel, by removing the tough outer leaves and then cut in half and cut each half in three. Ensure you keep some root on so it does not fall apart.
When the water begins to boil, add salt and the fennel.
Blanch for about 7 minutes
Remove and let cool slightly Meanwhile, grease a baking dish with butter.  Put the fennel into the dish, season and place a good few pats of butter on top of each piece and sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake the dish at 170 ° c for about 25 minutes.
The dish is ready when the surface is golden brown.

Fondant sweet Potato – serves 4
4 tbsp butter
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 4 * 2” rounds
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
100ml boiling water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Add the butter and water to the frying pan and when butter is almost melted, add the sweet potato rounds and garlic, season and cook on a medium heat until the potato starts to absorbe the butter and liquid and begins to caramelise from the bottom up . At this point, put the pan in the oven and continue cooking until the sweet potato is tender- about 15 minutes.

Remove from the pan, carve the chicken and serve with the fennel and feel the body heal!…. (Helped by a dark rum Daquiri- well it is Oscar weekend!)