Donal Skehan

One Wedding and a Roast Chicken…

Last weekend my cousin Emma got married in Brooklodge, Co. Wicklow, now if you are a regular subscriber to Delicious magazine you might recognise her as one of the people I was teaching how to cook a roast chicken a couple of months ago.  Emma is my eldest cousin on my mom’s side of the family and up until my little brother arrived on the scene we were the only little people around, therefore lots of attention, presents you know the deal.  Earlier this year before all the marriage madness took over I roped her in to a photoshoot for my Delicious magazine column, and after promising there would be dinner, she reluctantly agreed.

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One Tray White Wine Chicken Roast with Zesty Potatoes and Asparagus

When choosing a chicken for roasting make sure to choose a bird that’s nice and plump, which looks healthy with no blemishes or imperfections and has nice unbroken skin. You can use whatever veggies are in season to pop in the tray alongside the chicken. Veggies like beetroot, squash, and tomatoes are all ideal additions. This is a great repertoire recipe which you can produce at the drop of a hat with little thought!

Serves 4
800g baby new potatoes, halved
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated
1 lemon, sliced
Handful fresh thyme sprigs
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
1.5kg free-range chicken
Large knob of butter
1 large bunch of asparagus, woody ends snapped off
1 125ml glass white wine
Handful of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Put the new potatoes garlic cloves and lemon slices into a large roasting tin. Scatter with the thyme sprigs and drizzle with the oil. Season well and toss to combine.

Remove the string trussing the chicken. Gently loosen the skin on the chicken’s breasts to form a pocket, being careful not to tear it. Push a little butter under the skin, then spread more over the outside. Season with salt and pepper. Put the chicken on top of the potatoes, then roast for 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a plate, add the asparagus and pour the win into the roasting tin. Mix everything together so the asparagus is coated in the wine and chicken juices. Sit the chicken back on the veg. Return to the oven and roast for 30 minutes more, until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are tender. Rest the chicken and veg somewhere warm for 10 minutes, covered with foil, then stir through the parsley and serve.

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Roast Chicken with Lemon and Oregano and Ready for Spring!

January really is one of those months that my appetite doesn’t know what it wants.  One half of me wants something warm and comforting to hold off the the cold weather and the other half has had it up to here with rich stodgy winter food.  So trying to find the balance between the two is often difficult.  My solution has been to stick with the winter foods for now, but generally teaming them up with a light side salad, bulghur wheat packed with fresh flavours and spiky lemon dressings, which is so far working pretty well as a compromise.  This is all fine for now but I am so ready for some new foodie inspiration and thankfully spring is just around the corner, so things are most definitely looking up!  In fact we are busy getting the garden ready to plant some vegetables for year 3 of my kitchen garden project.  This year will by my year- I’m telling ya!  No spinach going to seed, no dead as a dodo carrots, no this year it’s going to be all change… I hope!

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Roast Chicken with Lemon and Oregano

Roast chicken really is one of the dishes I cook the most, so I am always looking for ways to mix it up. My favourite way to roast a chicken is to smother it in a garlic and herb paste, but this method comes a very close second, and makes a nice change. The beautiful thing about roast chicken is that it has so many uses. With some added extras like crunchy roast potatoes and some steamed veggies it will feed a crowd of 4-6 people, but on top of that it’s what you can do with the leftovers, that gets me excited! Chicken noodle soup, Leftover chicken stir fry, Chicken and sweetcorn soup, the possibilities are endless! Whatever you do with yours, this recipe makes a beautifully cooked chicken which is left with delicious subtle citrus flavour. The general rule when it comes to roasting chicken is to cook 20 minutes per pound and then 20 minutes extra.

Serves 4-6
1 chicken about 1kg in weight
3 onions, halved
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lemon, halved
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
A generous seasoning of sea salt and ground black pepper

For the gravy:
1 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder
1 glass of white wine
1 tablespoon of plain flour

Preheat the oven to 200oC and place the chicken and red onion halves in a roasting tin. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and give it a good squeeze of lemon juice. Slice the top of the garlic bulb and push inside the chicken along with the lemon halves. Sprinkle with the dried oregano, sea salt and ground black pepper. Place in the oven for around 50 minutes or until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Transfer the chicken and onions to a chopping board with grooves that will allow the juices to run off without loosing any.  Cover with tinfoil and allow to sit while you prepare the gravy. You could scrape the contents of the pan into a small saucepan, and add the wine if you want but I find it just as easy to plop the roasting tin on top of the hob, whack up the heat and add in the white wine.

Whisk the white wine into all the encrusted bits and juices in the pan, it should help to loosen everything up.  Whisk in the vegetable bouillon powder and then a little boiling water (about another wine glass full) until you have a consistency you are happy with. If you want a thicker gravy, whisk 1 tablespoon of flour into the gravy.  Simmer until it reaches your desired thickness and pour into a small jug or gravy boat.

To carve the chicken, I find the easiest way is to start with the legs, cutting each off, by inserting a knife in where the leg meets the breast and jiggling your knife around until you can cut all the way through.  Using a similar technique remove the wings.  I like to slice the breasts off in one foul swoop, so starting at the top of the bird in the middle, slice the breasts off on either side.  You can then slice the breasts into smaller pieces, so that everyone gets a bit of white meat too!  If you want to get every last bit of meat off the chicken at this point I recommend you get your hands involved and pick any remaining breasts meat off along the little bits of meat along the back.

I pop the carcass into a resealable bag and then into the freezer, and when I have 3 or 4 (and am feeling weird about having carcasses in my freezer), I make a big batch of chicken stock!

Serve the chicken with gravy, roast potatoes, some steamed veggies or even my latest obsession creamy roasted jerusalem artichokes.

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