Still Life With Wooden Spoon

On the Virtue of a Well-Prepared Chicken
September 15, 2010, 5:52 pm
Filed under: Cooking | Tags: , , , ,

I used to hate roast chicken. When I was little it was the bane of my existence. In my mind it was always so dry it squeaked against your teeth, and was devoid of any flavour whatsoever, striking fear into my prepubescent heart. This may, however, be due to the fact that our much-loved domestic at the time was no kitchen virtuoso. There were many things that she was a pro at, though. She made amazing banana bread and scones the size of your head, the likes of which I have never been able to replicate. Chicken, unfortunately, was not her forte.

When I began to learn to cook, then, I was determined to make the roast palatable, and it was dear Delia Smith who showed how. The secret – as in so many dishes – lies in butter. Lots and lots of butter. Smooshed up with garlic and lemon zest and shoved under the skin, you just roast away and can be sure in the amazingness of the results. For this evening’s chicken, however, there was to be an added element. We have had a glut of pork sausages in the house for various reasons, and so some stuffing was the designated way to use them up.

So, with the meat of four sausages squeezed out of the skins, a single apple was peeled, cored and grated and then chucked in the bowl. With an onion grated and fried to join this mix, a healthy dose of sage was added, a couple of handfuls of breadcrumbs co-opted into the mix, and an egg introduced to bind the lot. Shoved up the chicken’s jacksie till bursting, the bird was then oiled up, seasoned and banged in the braai.

After about 50 minutes or so on the braai (it was a small-ish bird), it was ready to carve up. The lemony tang from the top of the bird mingled beautifully with the appley savoury flavours underneath, and much joy resulted. If you’re not feeling the stuffing vibe – and to be honest, we seldom do – just quarter up the lemon that you zested to go under the skin and then chuck it in the cavity with some garlic before roasting. A different dish results, but one that is just as pleasing in its own right. And so the humble roast can be lifted to something rather lovely – expecially when you serve it up with a nice green salad and some crisp roasted potato wedges. How marvellous.