Okay, so one reason I have this blog is so I can put my favorite recipes somewhere, and make it easier to share them with friends. But don’t worry, I won’t clog up the web with recipes you can already find posted in some other website. If I do want to share a recipe I found in the web with you, I’ll simply set up a link.
A little background on this recipe. It so happens that I am such a big fan of both Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver, and there are two reasons: the first being accessibility of ingredients for their recipes, and the second is the simplicity of the dish itself. One thing that always disappointed me when it comes to trying out new recipes is the fact that at least one of the ingredients for the recipe is not available in my local grocery store. If I do find a specialty store that carries said ingredient, it usually is beyond my allotted budget. Thus, reason number one. Reason number two is related to something I learned through experience–that less is sometimes more, and that the most basic things can give you the most satisfaction. It was in one episode of Nigella’s show (I can’t remember which one) that I saw her make a baked chicken. The ingredients were basic, the procedure elementary, so I thought, why not try it out myself? And since the day I tried out the recipe, I have tweaked it bit by bit, and the following recipe is the result. It’s been a holiday favorite at home for years, and the same recipe I love preparing for guests and friends. My good friend Steph absolutely loves finishing it up.
- 1 whole chicken
- 12 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
- 2 white onions (one cut into halves, the other diced)
- 1 stalk of celery
- 1/2 a lemon
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pats of butter
- coarse rock salt and ground pepper
- rosemary (2 branches if fresh, but dry is also good)
- 1/2 kilo of potatoes, diced
- 2 large carrots, diced
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C or 400°F.
Clean your chicken in running water. Make sure it is completely thawed out. The worst enemy of this recipe is a semi-frozen chicken. Afterwards, pat dry your chicken with paper towels. You want to remove all the excess water.
In a bowl, mix together the diced potatoes, carrots and onion. Season with salt and pepper, leaves from half a sprig of fresh rosemary (see notes at the bottom) and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss together and place in the bottom of a 9-inch baking pan, creating a “bed” of vegetables.
Get six of the crushed garlic cloves and rub on the chicken. Tuck the crushed garlic under the skin of the chicken so that its flavor cooks into the chicken as it bakes. Rub about 1 tablespoon of rock salt on the chicken, along with 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper and the leaves from half a sprig of fresh rosemary.
In the abdominal cavity of the chicken (where its stomach ought to be), put in salt and pepper. Stuff in the celery, half a lemon, both onion halves, the remaining cloves of garlic and a sprig of fresh rosemary. It does not need to be absolutely neat, but make sure that none of the “stuffing” falls out during the baking process.
Set the chicken on top of the vegetable bed you made earlier. Lightly drizzle olive oil on the chicken, and just place two pats of butter on top of the chicken. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil.
Bake the chicken in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 30 minutes or until the chicken is nicely browned. You can check if the chicken is cooked through by cutting a bit through the thigh meat into the bone. If the juices are clear, then you’re in good shape. If the juices have a tinge of red, give the chicken a few more minutes in the oven.
Take the chicken out of the oven and let rest for about 15 minutes before you carve into it. Enjoy.
Tip for rosemary: To remove the leaves from the sprig, hold it by the tip. Using the thumb and forefinger from your other hand, pinch the branch near where you are holding it by its tip, and slide both fingers along the branch. You will notice that the leaves will fall off easily. If you don’t have fresh rosemary, just substitute 1/2 teaspoon of dry rosemary for half a sprig of fresh rosemary.
The great thing about this dish is that it already comes with a side of potatoes and carrots. But a warning for the conscious dieter: this dish can be very rich and fatty. The bottom of the pan will have collected all the drippings from your chicken. Personally, I love all those lovely juices, which I prefer to soak up with bread, or put in a bowl of warm rice (I’m a Filipino, so rice is a major part of my diet). You can always opt to leave the drippings untouched. A great idea though for the drippings is to turn them into gravy. Yum!(I will try to put up instructions to make simple gravy from your drippings. 🙂 ) (Edit: Access my gravy recipe here.)
Don’t feel bound to do this recipe exactly as I specified here. The great thing about cooking is that there is a lot of room for creativity. Always think up new ways to flavor your chicken. I sometimes change things up by adding paprika to the dry rub for the chicken, giving it a nice red glow after baking, not to mention a mildly sweet pepper flavor. Or you can use leeks and ginger to stuff the chicken, and soy sauce as marinade to make simple soy chicken. So try this recipe out and post a comment below on which flavors you tried out.