17 November 2010

Pot Roast Chicken

This blog post first appeared in the Bournemouth Echo newspaper's "Taste" supplement.  You can see it here.

I MAY NEVER ROAST A CHICKEN AGAIN

To roast .. or to poach, this is the question!
After last night’s Pot Roast Chicken, I should think that this bold statement is a very strong possibility.  Poached in a rich, flavoursome home made stock, with fresh vegetables alongside, all thoughts of dry over-done chicken are cast into history by this revelation of a cooking method.

I was pondering on why I haven’t ever given the Pot-Roast a try (well, except with the slow-cooker, but that’s somewhat different).  I have come to the conclusion that it is for fear – particularly with a chicken – that the bird will emerge from the pot looking rather too much like one’s big toe does after too long immersed in a hot bath.  A flabby, wrinkly chicken isn’t the most appetising prospect.   What?  You mean to say that your toes don’t go all flabby and wrinkly?  Oh dear, it must just be mine then.

Incidentally, and going back to the beginning of the story, a quite lovely coincidence happened with regard to my Pot-Roast Chicken.  I had discovered the recipe when I was trawling various recipe websites, looking for inspiration for the next week’s menu list.  Up popped this recipe for Pot-Roast Chicken, which appeared to be a) economical and b) by Delia Smith.  That was two points in its favour.  Fast forward to Saturday morning, when I went to the Library to return my books and choose my new batch.  There, sitting quietly on the shelf, was Delia Smith’s “Frugal Food”.  Well, the word “frugal” attracted my attention to begin with, and realising it was one of Delia’s made me tuck it under my arm and bring it home.  Lo and behold, what is in there but the very recipe for Pot-Roast Chicken.  Ta-daaa!  Amazing.

I got in a bit of a tizzy over the cooking of the Pot-Roast, as it seemed to involve a number of different processes – not to mention I was producing roast potatoes & parsnips, Yorkshire puddings and cabbage alongside.  So I wrote out a programme, to make sure it arrived at around 5.50-6 p.m. :

3.40    Trim & prepare chicken
3.50    Oven bake chicken for 30 mins and prepare vegetables.
4.20    Put chicken in pot plus veg and cook 1 hr.
4.50    Par boil potatoes & parsnips, put tray in to heat
5.00    Put potatoes & parsnips in to roast.
5.20    Put Yorkshire puds in, veg to keep warm, gravy to reduce in small pan, carve chicken.
5.40    Put cabbage on to cook.

It may not appear to be much of a plan, but I knew that without it I’d spend a large part of my time working out times, just so that I could keep everything happening when it should!

Trimming and preparing the chicken was just a few minutes’ work - piercing an onion with cloves and parking it in the cavity, seasoning and rubbing the chicken with butter, before popping into the oven to brown.

It was important to prepare the vegetables - two carrots, a leek cut into four, two garlic cloves and some parsley, before the chicken finished it’s oven roasting, as they had to accompany it into the pot.

Mindful of Masterchef’s constant challenge to “get some flavour into your food”, I thought that poaching the chicken in plain old water was a bit under-achieving.  (Sorry, Delia!).  So I quickly defrosted a couple of blocks of home made chicken stock, which I topped up with water – and poached the bird in that.  Apart from the odd cruise past to make sure all was well under the lid, it had enough moisture, no veggies had emerged etc., it was a remarkably well-behaved way of cooking.  I can’t help but think it is probably more economic than running the oven for an hour and half, too.  It mostly chuckled along on a gentle heat for the hour it was poaching.  Of course, I blew any advantage along those lines by roasting potatoes and parsnips, plus making Yorkshire puddings – but it’s worth remembering for next time!


The chicken was delicious.  Moist and without that odd sulphurous tone that an ordinarily roast chicken has, it was a pleasure to eat – not to mention the added notes from the stock and vegetables.  I served the carrots and leek pieces alongside the chicken and both had benefited from their languishing in the tasty stock.  The gravy, though!  Oh, the gravy!  I scooped out three or four ladlefuls of stock into a smaller saucepan and reduced it down to make the gravy.  Oh boy, but it would be the base for a truly gorgeous chicken soup.  Regrettably though, I shall have to keep the extra stock for the next chicken – although next time, I shall definitely put the carcase into the slow cooker and make up the next batch of stock.

Dessert was something of an experiment.  I had been given a bag full of Quinces from a friend who grew them for the decorative effect in the garden, but not for use.  I have never tangled with Quince before and for all that I’d seen many recipes that involved their use, I hadn’t any great plan for them.  Because of this, I firstly investigated how best to keep them – would Quince freeze, for example.  Having cut them in half and oven-roasted them covered, with a little sugar, I was able to squeeze the core and pips out and discard them.  This resulted in a gorgeously aromatic little bowl of extremely tart fruit flesh.  The taste – once you stop wincing from the sourness – is slightly reminiscent of apple.  I knew I had a cooking apple in the fridge, which was looking for a home.


Cue one Apple & Quince Sponge pudding, with the fruit in a gorgeously tart layer below a sponge made with foraged Chestnut roasted crumbs, which was an absolute treat with some vanilla ice cream.


 

5 comments:

  1. Can you tell me more about your sponge layer? I'm entranced.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Persephoneskitchen. :) If you look here :

    http://jennyeatwellsrhubarbginger.blogspot.com/2010/11/chestnut-sponge-dessert-with-apple.html

    or look in the blog's archive (scroll up) for Chestnut Sponge with Apple & Quince, then click on the name, you'll find the instructions. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Maybe I should try a pot roast chicken again, I made Nigella's Praised Chicken, and I thought it was pretty bland. But yours looks great :)

    Love the plan of when to put stuff in the oven - I never do that and I always forget something!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh Lauren - do. I've found that the Pot Roast Chicken is truly the gift that keeps on giving, as the stock from the chicken has been providing super tasty gravy for the last week or so! In fact, so taken with the whole concept am I, that I will be Pot Roasting another chicken this coming Sunday. As for the plan, well, it's the fear that I'll forget something or start something cooking either waaaay before it should have been, or waaaay after it should have been, that makes me do it. I think I've got too old to remember so many times without writing them down! :)

    ReplyDelete

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