The perfect roast chicken

Much has been written on the topic of the perfect roast chicken. I’ve tried many and various recipes but I think that this is actually THE ONE! Obviously, the most important thing is to buy a decent quality chook in the first place (I buy high welfare ones from my local butcher) but then it’s all about the dressing of the bird before cooking, the temperature of the oven and the duration of the roasting time. This longer, lower temperature roast with the chicken smeared with cinnamon and salt spiced butter delivers a beautifully cooked, succulent bird with crispy skin every time. Served with the pan juices spooned over the meat, it’s just a delight.

roast chicken
  • 1 high welfare or free range chicken about 1.7kg
  • 1/2 lemon
  • A handful of fresh herbs – a couple of bay leaves, rosemary or sage – whatever you have to hand
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 40g butter, softened
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

To make…

  • Remove the chicken from the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature for 20 minutes or so. Remove any trussing string.
  • Preheat the oven to 150C.
  • Sit the chicken in a shallow sided roasting tin and season the cavity with some salt and pepper. Stuff it with the herbs, garlic and the lemon.
  • Mix the butter with the cinnamon and salt and smother the chicken skin with it.
  • Roast the chicken in the oven on the middle shelf for two and a half hours. Baste a few times during the cooking time.
  • Once cooked, the juices should run clear if you prick the thigh with a skewer or the point of a sharp knife. Allow it to cool slightly before serving; it will be easier to carve. Serve with the pan juices.

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Cauliflower cheese and bacon filo pie

I’m always on the lookout for new and unusual ways to serve vegetables so I was intrigued when I came across an Ottolenghi recipe for cauliflower cheese but reimagined as a pie. I’ve changed the ingredients, added strips of crisp smoked bacon and finely chopped spring onion and used what I think is a better mix of hard cheeses but OMG this is soooo delicious, looks spectacular and any leftovers reheat really well. Enjoy!

  • I large cauliflower, trimmed and broken into bite sized florets
  • 4 slices of smoked streaky bacon cut into lardons
  • 1 tsp Madras curry powder
  • 3 tbsp light olive oil
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 675ml milk
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
  • 150g grated cheese – I used a mix of Parmesan (20g), gruyere (30g), Cheddar (100g)
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

To make…

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly grease a 23cm springform cake tin with butter.
  • Add the cauliflower, bacon, curry powder, 1 tsp salt and pepper and 2 tbsp of oil to a bowl and mix thoroughly. Put the mixture on a large parchment-lined baking tray and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Set aside and turn the oven down to 170C.
  • Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Put the butter in a non-stick saucepan and melt over medium heat. Once melted, pour off half into a small bowl and mix it with the rest of the olive oil – you’ll be using that for the filo pastry. Whisk the flour into the remaining 50g of butter and cook through for a few minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk to ensure you don’t get any lumps. Cook through, whisking continuously for 5 minutes and then stir in the cheese, mustard, 1/2tsp of salt and grated garlic. Set aside.
  • Open your pack of filo pastry and work quickly to stop it drying out. Brush each sheet liberally with the oil and melted butter and drape each sheet across the baking tin buttered side up. Layer each sheet rotating it slightly so the overhang drapes over at a different angle. Use all six sheets to create a pastry case with no gaps.
  • Spoon half the cheese sauce into the base. Cover with the cauliflower and bacon mixture. Scatter with the chopped spring onion and spoon over the remaining cheese sauce. Crimp up the overhang of the filo pastry so it create a messy, scrunched-up border around the edges, leaving the centre of the pie exposed. Give the filo border a good brush with the remaining butter, place th tin onto a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, take the pie out of the oven. Protect your hands with a tea towel and gently release the outer circle of the springform tin. The pie should be crisp and firm enough to stand by itself. Return it to the oven for another 25 minutes to allow the sides and the top to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Scatter the top with a little chopped parsley.
  • Carefully transfer the pie to a serving plate and cut each portion with a very sharp knife. You’ll need a cake slice to transfer it to each plate to make sure you don’t miss a drop of the oozy sauce. Serve with green veg (I used the greens from the cauliflower wilted in a little butter) or a side salad.
  • If there’s any leftover, keep it in the fridge and reheat in a baking dish for 20 minutes.

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Gratin dauphinois

There are many recipes for this classic French dish that is so perfect with roast beef but this is my favourite version. The mixture of milk and cream makes it lighter than one made with 100% cream and is easier on the arteries. The finely grated garlic added to the cream gives enough flavour without it being overpowering – purists will tell you to just wipe the dish with the cut side of a clove of garlic but that just doesn’t do it for me. Use waxy as opposed to floury potatoes (I use the red variety) so that it keeps its shape and slice the potatoes with a mandolin for perfect results.

Serves 6

  • 750g firm waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 250ml double cream
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely grated
  • Fresh nutmeg
  • Butter for greasing the dish
  • 50g gruyère cheese, grated

To make…

  • Heat the oven to 160°C.
  • Lightly grease your gratin dish with butter.
  • Put the cream, milk, grated garlic and a scant grating of fresh nutmeg into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
  • Peel and slice the potatoes thinly with a mandolin – they have to be wafer thin and exactly the same thickness for the dish to cook evenly.
  • Add the potatoes to the cream mixture and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. They need to be slightly softened but not cooked through.
  • Pour the potatoes with all the cream mixture into the gratin dish and spread them out evenly.
  • Sprinkle with the cheese and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Test it with the tip of a knife to ensure the potatoes are cooked through, the top should be golden and bubbling.
  • Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Share, follow, like, enjoy!

  • To get the latest #TheFridayRecipe from the Pigeon Cottage Kitchen blog, just add your email address to the subscribe box at the top right-hand column of the website. 
  • Follow me on Twitter @pigeoncottage,  on Instagram at Pigeon Cottage Kitchen, and the Pigeon Cottage Kitchen page on Facebook.
  • Click on the link to get your very own copy of my family recipe book, Whats4teaMum?

 

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