Wednesday, 24 August 2011

:: Roast Chicken Bliss ::

Lemon & Prosciutto Roast Chicken
:: Megann's Kitchen ::


:: succulent roast chicken straight out of the oven ::

There are a few things that a succulent chicken match perfectly with & prosciutto, lemon & fresh garden herbs is just one perfect combination, so when I saw this on a Jamie Oliver series I knew the flavours would be incredible. I franticly scrambled for a pen & paper & wrote down what I could remember of the delicious looking dish.
Now, I can tell you this is a great one for any occasion from a delightful meal with the family (such as upcoming fathers' day!) to entertaining special guests who fancy roast poultry. My husband just can't get enough of the crunchy baked prosciutto, picking the bottom of the baking pan for the more tastey roasted peices.
When my friends called in for an impromptu dinner on short notice one time, I happened to have one of these free range chickens already in the oven. All I had to do was peel a few more root vegetables. "Wow, I thought we would get take-away.... but this is so much better!" they said serving seconds, and as you know, this is a true compliment to any home cook.
To enhance this dish I try to replicate my godmother's crunchy roast potatoes, dutch carrots, pumpkin & greens of some variety.
I have been asked for this recipe a number of times, so this is for my friends, oh, & for Jamie.
1.5 kg (3 lb) organic chicken
1 large lemon
110 grams softened butter
8 slices prosciutto, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 Tbs fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

1 Tbs fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 kg potatoes & root vegetables to roast, cleaned and cut into chunks

   (options: pumpkin, sweet potato, dutch carrots, celeriac, shallots)

:: lifting the chicken skin from the meat ::

Take your chicken out of refrigeration 30 minutes prior to preparation. Preheat the oven to 200°C (395°F). Prepare a roasting tray with baking paper (vegetables) & a roasting pan (chicken) & place both in the oven to preheat. Wash your chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towel. Using your fingers, part the breast skin from the breast meat. It's important to try to push your hand gently down the breast, being careful not to rip the skin. Zest your lemon with a microplane zester into a bowl. Cut your naked lemon in half & set aside. Chop the prosciutto & add to the bowl with the lemon zest, softened butter, garlic and fresh herbs. Season with sea salt & pepper and mix the butter mixture well. Push this into the space you have made between the meat and the skin, keep a little aside & rub over the wings of the bird. Slash the thigh of the chicken once (twice for a big bird) & rub that butter goodness into it. This will help with flavour penetration & cooking time. Push the lemon halves into the cavity of the chicken. I tie the legs together with kitchen string for presentation, but this is not critical. Place the chicken into your prepared hot roasting pan and roast in the preheated oven for 60 minutes. Cover with foil & leave to rest for 10-30 minutes as this give the juices in the chicken time to settle, your vegetables time to turn golden & you time to prepare to sit down at the dinner table.

:: combining the butter mixture ::

:: slathering the butter mixture all over the chicken ::

While the chicken is cooking, parboil peeled potatoes in salted water for
10 minutes & drain, placing back into the pot. Season & place lid onto the pot & shake the potatoes vigorously, giving them a floury coating. Liberally cover with olive oil & give one last shake & place onto a tray with baking paper. Cut the pumpkin & other desired vegetables into irregular chunks around the same size as the potatoes & add them to the pot that you used to shake the potatoes. Give a touch up of seasoning & olive oil, shake & place on your tray with the potatoes. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.


:: baking in the roasting tray with vegetables ::

If you prefer roasting your vegetables all together, when the chicken reaches the 20 minute mark, by which time the butter mixture will have melted through & cooked out of the chicken & settled into the bottom of the tray, giving your chicken incredible flavour. Remove the chicken & add your seasoned, un-oiled potatoes & other hard root vegetables. Toss and coat the vegetables in the butter & juices from the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken back on top of the vegetables & continue to cook for another 40 minutes.

:: cutting the chicken, a beautifully moist breast ::

Kitchen Notes
:: Roasting a whole chicken on the bone will take approximately 20 minutes for every 500g of weight at 200°C (395°F).
:: If any herbs are unavailable, sage also goes beautifully with this dish.
:: Jamie's top tip is to place his lemons in the microwave for 40 seconds to bring out the flavour, but I have found because I have removed the rind it seeps into the chicken regardless. This, however, is a fantastic method for adding extra lemon punch if you prefer a more citrus flavour.
:: This chicken also makes fantastic leftovers. We love to eat it cold with a fresh salad or in a fresh bun for lunches. It doesn't last long in our household!

:: scattered with cress from the garden for garnish ::

Free Range
Of course, like many, I have become an advocate for free range & local products when they are available to me. It is rare when I cannot find a free range whole chicken these days, so when possible it goes into my shopping cart. The price you pay for change and for better treatment of animals is actually very little, and the movement to eliminate "battery hens" & for better care starts with one person & that person can be you.
FREPA Certified Free Range Egg & Poultry Australia, follow this link.



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