My mum grew up on a small farm in rural Queensland, Australia in the 1950s. She had a horse, several cows and a flock of chickens. Each Sunday the family would get together and have a Sunday roast. It was an all-day affair that began at the crack of dawn.
Her dad would kill a chicken at first light, soak it and then it would be mum's job to pluck it when she woke up; a task that still haunts her to this day.
Her mum would milk the cows and with the fresh cream, she'd make butter for the table. The potatoes, carrots, peas and herbs would be picked fresh from the garden. Another one of mum's jobs would be to shell the peas, which she'd do till her little fingers were sore. She needed enough for four people, after all.
By the time the meal was served it would be would be two o'clock. Then came afternoon tea at four with a sponge cake, fresh out of the oven. And then it would be time for supper. A weekly ordeal!
While it sounds idyllic with all that fresh produce, what a hell of a lot of work! All but the beheading was done by the women, while her father and brother would retire to the couch to read. Pah!
What a long way we've come: I whipped up this roast in an hour and a half with only 20 minutes of prep time - and, to show how far women have come, I made Nic do all the chopping while I read the latest issue of Gourmet.
And so it was that an hour an a half later we tucked into a delicious roast chicken with a lemon herbed butter. The butter consisted of fresh thyme, rosemary, parsley and grated lemon zest.
When I roast a chicken, in order to get really crispy skin, I bake it on top of a wire rack that I fit over the baking pan. This way, all the juices run into the pan instead of having the chicken sitting in them while its cooking. The result: deliciously crispy skin!
This week I will be submitting this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging which is being hosted by Truffle at What's On My Plate.
Roast Chicken with a Lemon Herbed Butter Recipe
1.5 pound organic free-range chicken
1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
2 tbs of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tbs of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 tbs of parsley, chopped
1 tbs of grated lemon zest
3 tsp of sea salt
1.5 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
Special equipment: Kitchen string & rack to place over the baking pan (optional)
1 sweet potato, cut into chunks
1 bulb of garlic
6 small potatoes, quartered
6 small purple potatoes, quartered
1 onion, cut in half
2 tbs olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 230 degrees (450).
- In a bowl, soften the butter with a fork and add the chopped thyme, rosemary, parsley, 1teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Mix well and set aside.
- Rinse the chicken inside and out with cool water. Pat dry and remove any fat from the cavity opening. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt into the cavity.
- Starting at the cavity of the bird, gently slide a finger under the skin of the chicken to loosen it, being careful not to poke any holes. Slide about a teaspoon of butter mixture under skin onto the breasts and the drumsticks with your fingers.
- Cut one lemon into quarters and place it in the cavity with the thyme sprigs. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings under the body.
- Place the chicken onto a rack that fits over the baking pan. Use a teaspoon of the butter mixture to spread over the chicken. Finally, sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper over the chicken and massage well.
- Meanwhile, mix the potatoes and sweet potatoes in olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Place them in a baking tin, ensuring that the skin of the potatoes is facing down (this makes the potatoes more crispy). Cut the onion into quarters and place in the tin along with the garlic bulb.
- Turn the oven down to 180 degrees (350) and place the chicken over it's pan on the middle oven rack. Now place the vegetables on the rack below and roast for 45 minutes. You can test the chicken by taking it out and cutting into the breast. The juices should run clear.
- Meanwhile, squeeze juice from the extra lemon and mix it in with the remaining butter. This can be spooned over the chicken upon serving.