I love a roast dinner done properly. But they are divisive beasts. In the UK, they are often the dish most likely to evoke a cry, most often heard in Italy, “I like it the way my Mum cooked it when I was growing up”.
When I was a boy, my brother and his mate devised a plan similar to the we-both-pretend-we’re-going-to-each-other’s-house-but-we’re-actually-going-down-the-park. They both claimed that the other’s mum served Yorkshire puddings even with roast chicken. It worked for a bit, and we got this “fusion” version served a few times before my mum saw sense.
People do have these quirks, somebody’s mum I’m sure does serve Yorkshires with roast chicken and their kids go around in the world thinking everyone else is plain wrong. People often want to have or recreate the roasts their parents served. Or absolutely do not. I have a friend who refers to this meal as “a oven cooked chicken with veg” so it technically doesn’t count as having a roast dinner, something he felt was ruined for him by his parents in his youth.
My father makes an outstanding Roast Beef for which he roasts ribs. It is unequaled in my experience and so I don’t really attempt it. My mum’s roast chicken is far more achievable (not that that doesn’t make it fabulous) and so Roast Chicken is the roast I turn to. I have made a few changes and modifications over the years, so it now feels like my roast chicken recipe for my family. But the lineage is there.
There is also a lot of influence from Nigella Lawson. I love what she says about roasting a chicken in “How to Eat” for her “Tagliatelle with Chicken from the Venetian ghetto”, her roast potatoes from “Feast” and most importantly an almost throw away comment from “Nigella Express” which shaped a lot of my thinking about cooking generally.
I like quick and easy no-fuss recipes a lot so a book like Nigella Express is great, it’s quick but not as fussy as Jamie and his 30- or 15-minute meals. Not trying to make a masterpiece, just trying to be successful quickly. And in her Express book she has a roast chicken recipe. And she asks the question, how can a recipe that clearly takes at least an hour and a half be considered quick? Well she suggests doing everything in a pan all together and she makes the point that actually roasting a chicken can take as little as 5 minutes prep work and then the oven does the rest and during that time you can be washing your hair or whatever.
It’s true that you don’t have to do much when roast chicken is in your otherwise quick meal, but isn’t really true when dealing with a roast chicken dinner with potatoes and veg and gravy and all of the proverbial trimmings. When doing a roast chicken dinner, there are quite a few things to get right. But don’t worry… I have your back. Next week’s recipe should be the foolproof roast chicken recipe you’ve been looking for.