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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Roast Dinner

I have been a bit lax in posting lately…that’s actually good because it means I have been busy.  I have missed the weekend make-a-long and the Wednesday recipe so I am going to make up for it today. Warning this is a super long post and I am going to share some family secrets with you.  Today’s post is how to make a wonderful family roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings for your favourite family members.

The menu:

Stuffed Roast Chicken
Mashed potato
Roast potatoes
Gravy
Stuffed tomatoes
and two vegetables

I like sprouts and carrots
Maeve hates sprouts
Mam doesn’t like carrots
David likes carrots…so does Oisín
Dad loves mashed cauliflower
If it’s food Oliver will eat it
Áine’s not fussy, neither is Fiona
and I don’t think I’ve seen Gina eat a vegetable…even though she’s a vegetarian

So, to start you will need the following:

A clean kitchen: Empty of other people is best, I like to cook on my own.
Good music: The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, U2 or maybe The Beatles, a compilation on shuffle works well.
Two hours: You may get the actual cooking done in1 hour but need 2 hours to get everything else done.
Wine: Chilled bottle of white wine, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Red wine, Merlot or Malbec.

Note: If you don’t have music but have a TV then a really old classic Sunday afternoon film will do just aswell.  A musical would be really good or a cheesy Christmas film if it is that time of the year

Ok let’s start:
Take out all the pots you have-all different sizes, and two frying pans and leave them all on top of the cooker.
Pour out a glass of white wine for yourself and take a sip, turn on the music and sing while you cook.  Refresh your wine and change the music as necessary.


The first thing to make is the stuffing, you will need lots of it.
Enough to go inside the chicken,
Enough for the tomatoes,
Enough to make some in a dish,
and then another big pile of it if Maeve is eating.

Chop two onions finely and put in a pan with about ¼ lb of butter.  Sweat gently until they are soft.  Get a big bowl and half fill with breadcrumbs. Add in loads of chopped herbs, pick your favourite (I like parsley, thyme, sage and rosemary and have these in the garden) …you want it to look really green. Next add a packet of chopped mixed nuts and half a packet of chopped apricots. Stir in the onion and butter mix. Taste for seasoning, add some pepper and chilli flakes if you want, be careful of adding salt as the butter has salt in it. If you are not cooking the chicken straight away make sure the stuffing is cold before you put it into it.

Note: If anyone else comes to help,
let them taste,
let them stir,
then give them a glass of red wine, tell them it will be ready soon and send them into the sitting room to watch TV.
If you have a lot of people you may need more than one bottle of red wine.

The chicken: Ideally kill it the night before and leave it in the fridge.
Failing that, take it out of the wrapping and take off the funny elastic string thingy.  Look inside it and take out the extra flap of fat and MAKE SURE there isn’t a plastic bag of giblets still inside.
If you want you can cut out the wishbone, it makes it easier to carve.  Put the stuffing inside, don’t pack it too tight you want some hot air to circulate in there to cook it through. Put the stuffed chicken into an oven dish UPSIDE DOWN…it is best to cook the bottom first. Put it into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees, it will take about an hour to cook.

Wash your hands.
Clean down the counter.
Go to the loo.
and then it’s time for another glass of wine and maybe a 5 minute sit down.

The potatoes: I find roosters are great for mash and roast but use your favourites.
Peel the potatoes and put into a big pot. When you think you have enough add lots more. If Oisín is eating with you it’s best just to double the amount. Cut them so they are all even sized, rinse and cover with cold water.  Add some sea salt, cover and bring to the boil.

Open the oven and carefully take out the chicken and turn it over so the breast is now on the top and can cook and crisp.

If you have hens put the potato peeling into a casserole dish with a splash of water and put into the bottom of the oven to cook…feed to hens when cold.

Hint: Vegetables, hot or cold water.
This is simple, if it grows in the ground start cooking in cold water, if it grows above ground start cooking in boiling water.  Don’t ever put a lid on green vegetables it makes them go a yucky grey colour.  Only ever add salt to potatoes to cook.

Back to the potatoes: When they boil turn down and simmer for 10 minutes.  Then take out half of the potatoes and leave to dry, these will become the roasted ones.
Get a big frying pan and add some goose or duck fat or some olive oil with a knob of butter. Add some chopped garlic, put in the potatoes and toss around until covered in the fat.  Place on a roasting dish and sprinkle with smoked paprika or dried mixed herbs, whichever you like best.  Put into oven to roast.  Check a few times and turn around a bit and baste in the oil.  They should be crispy in about 30 minutes.

Check the chicken, if it is getting brown then cover it in foil.  If the tray has a lot of juices or fat then carefully pour it off and keep.  The potato skins for the hens should be cooked now, take them out to cool and then sprinkle on the grass for them to peck through. If you don’t have hens then give them raw to the pigs…if you don’t have either then save them for me.

Note: Some people like to cook the potatoes around the chicken, I don’t as I find with the juices and the fat they get too soggy.  It’s better to save the juices for the gravy and keep the fat for the next lot of roast spuds.


Go into the sitting room and tell everyone that the potatoes are in the oven so it won’t be much longer. You can get them to set the table and sort drinks out for everyone. If they are complaining that they are hungry give them a bowl of olives to nibble.

Sneak back into the kitchen and top up your own white wine.  Change the music, it’s probably time to slow it down a little now, Enya or Maria Doyle Kennedy are good choices.

Sprouts: Open the net of sprouts, cut each one in half and take off any black leaves. Put into a pot, cover in boiling water, bring back to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Carrots: Cut off the top and bottom, I don’t bother to peel them.  Cut in half lengthwise and cut into chunks about 3cm long, then cut each chunk into two diagonally, they will look like mini carrots. Put into pot, cover with boiling water, bring back to boil and then  simmer about 15 minutes.
The carrot top and bottoms can be used for stock, or let the children grow the tops in a saucer of water.  Don’t keep the sprout peelings for stock, and the hens won’t eat them either…so it’s the pigs or compost heap. Watch out of Dad comes in as he will eat all the raw carrots.

Stuffed Tomatoes: Cut the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out all the seeds. Put some stuffing into the tomatoes.  Put some more stuffing into an ovenproof dish and place the tomatoes on top, they will balance well here.  

Open the oven, it’s probably full now so check the chicken. Cut open the thigh of the chicken, if the juices are clear it is cooked.  Take it out and leave it to rest, cover lightly with foil to keep warm.

Important: Make sure there are no cats in the kitchen…or Oliver, because he will eat all the chicken now.
Put the stuffing and tomatoes into the oven, check the roast potatoes and baste.
The boiled potatoes should now be done, drain and leave to dry for a minute or two.  Mash with a knob of butter, a splash of milk and some salt and pepper. Keep warm somewhere.  For a different mash use some olive oil and some minced garlic…or some grated cheese…or scallions…or parsley.  Or what I like to add is a raw egg and stir well.

Check to see how everyone is, they may be getting more hungry but should be in good humour from the wine.  Offer some garlic bread.

Garlic Bread: Cut a baguette or ciabatta in half, rub with garlic and drizzle with olive oil and put under the grill until golden. Or add minced garlic to butter, spread on bread and toast.  You can sprinkle either of these with some grated parmesan.

The Gravy: Chop an onion finely and sweat in a little oil. Go into the sitting room and get the red wine…nag them all because the table isn’t set. Pour a good splash of red wine into the gravy pan. Now pour the juices of the chicken into the pan aswell. Add a dessert spoonful of chutney, or relish, or cranberry sauce, or even a glug of ketchup… that will add a depth of flavour. Top up with water and add a spoonful of instant gravy mix and stir well (yes, I know, gravy mix…but it does work well). Taste and see if anything else is needed...herbs or seasoning.

Check the vegetable and if ready drain them…if any fall in the sink, just pick them out and ad back to the pot, they’ll be fine. Add a knob of butter to the sprouts.  Add a splash of orange juice and some coriander seeds to the carrots. Put everything into dishes ready to be served.

Now the most important part: Carve some chicken and put it onto your plate and serve yourself everything you want.  Hide some roast potatoes so you can have seconds if you want some later. And only then tell everyone else that food is ready. Get someone else to pour you a glass of red wine, complain that the bottle is almost empty and don’t let on that you finished a bottle of white wine while cooking.  Pick some music that everyone likes, maybe Coldplay, and enjoy dinner.
…and don’t forget the best part of a big roast dinner is the leftovers sandwich later on for tea.





2 comments:

Anne-Marie (byAmor) said...

Love your witty writing style. I didn't expect to enjoy reading about cooking roast chicken but it really made me smile! And thanks for the cooking tips.

Maria Home Decorations said...

I hope someone else did all the washing up! Sounds like a delicious meal. Am addicted to paprika on potatoes too. Baby potatoes, cut into wedges with olive oil and paprika, yum yum.