There is something about roasting a chicken or joint of beef that makes me feel grown up and domestic goddessy. I have no idea why, other than it was really only since we married that I have roasted chicken, turkey or beef.
I feel such a sense of pride when I pull the roasted chicken from the oven, seeing the golden skin and hearing the sizzle.
Of course, I have to step over Bob to get to the oven, as he has taken it upon himself to become “Protector of the Chicken”. He takes up position in the kitchen, laying his head on his front paws and keeping his eyes fixed on the oven door about half an hour before it is ready to come out.
How he can time it so well is beyond me, but at least if the oven timer fails I have him to remind me!
We are convinced that he is guarding it from any burgulars who might sneak into the house with the express intention of stealing the chicken.
Now, a confession.
I am vegetarian. I don’t eat meat, haven’t for years. Yet since marrying Allan, I have taken a pride in cooking meat for him that he enjoys.
You have no idea the ethical dilemma that first caused for me. I used to refuse to eat anything that a spoon that might have touched meat might have touched.
I worked through that and am now content to cook meat for Allan (and Bob!) while choosing not to eat it myself.
Now, I come over all Nigella when I see a chicken and want to roast it and present it to Allan, as some kind of symbol of something.
I haven’t worked that part out yet…
Of course, being vegetarian put me behind others in knowing how to cook roast chicken. I knew the theory. Roasting = oven.
Beyond that I was lost.
It was a steep learning curve. I turned to my mom of course and my friends, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver.
What? You think they might not be my real friends? O_O
My mom had lots of great advice. Including putting bacon over turkey to keep it moist. Which Allan seems to highly approve of. He loves turkey… and bacon. So, it’s all good in his opinion.
And her stuffing of breadcrumbs, ground beef, onions and herbs seems to please him too.
Mom’s stuffing always makes me think of Christmas. Of the huge bird sitting on the counter, and the task of filling one of her old, white pudding bowls with the stuffing using a huge spoon.
Before I became vegetarian I think her stuffing was my favourite thing about Christmas Dinner. My favourite thing about Christmas was my grandmother.
Mom and Dad would invite both sets of grandparents and my uncle for the day. Her mom, my Nannie, was the smallest of woman, a tiny little woman with not a pick of fat on her. She spoilt me, and I loved her so much. I miss her dreadfully, even now many years since her death. I wish she could have been at my wedding and met Allan.
She was a farmer’s wife and could sort out anything. One of my favourite memories of her was the Christmas she rose from the dinner table and asked “When is Big Tea?”
Big Tea was the last meal of Christmas Day, a spread of cold meats, salads, breads and left over turkey and desserts. It was her favourite meal of the day. We all laughed as she ate like a bird; she protested she just wanted to know when so she knew how long she had to digest dinner. Yeah, right!
But back to the roast chicken of yesterday.
Jamie told me (okay, I might have watched it on TV as opposed to chatting about it with him) to carefully slide a spoon upside down under the skin to separate the skin from the meat. Then to push in knobs of seasoned butter and massage it into the flesh to ensure it stays moist.
I vary the seasonings depending on what I have in the cupboard. Yesterday it was garlic and basil.
Timings I take from Nigella.
Nigella Lawson’s Simple Roast Chicken
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Allow 20 minutes per 500g of chicken plus 2o minutes.
It is Allan and Bob approved, so it must be good!