Classic comforts

Come winter’s chilly blasts, our attention turns indoors. Spend a while pottering in the kitchen for a scrumptious result.

Salt and pepper perfect roast chicken

This roast chicken recipe involves four steps over several days. This might sound like a bit of bother, but it’s worth it. The brining ensures the meat is tender, while the blanching dries out the skin so it crisps up deliciously well when cooked. This is the same method used to make classic mandarin duck-style crispy skin. 

  • 2 whole free-range chickens, washed
  • 200–400g salt (depending on how much water is used)
  • 30g five spice powder
  • 10g star anise, ground
  • 10g fennel seeds
  • 20g Sichuan peppercorns
  • 10g chilli flakes

Step 1: Brining the chickens
Place all the above ingredients except the salt in a large pot. Measuring as you go, add enough water to cover the chickens. (You’ll need approximately three litres of water, depending on the size of the pot, but you must completely submerge both chickens). When you know how much water is needed, remove the chickens and add eight percent of that liquid in salt. (For instance, if you use three litres (3,000ml) of water, you’ll need to add 240ml of salt).

Bring the liquid to the boil to dissolve the salt and turn off the heat. When the brine has cooled to room temperature, add the cleaned chickens and submerge. Place in the fridge for 6–8 hours, then remove the chickens and discard the brine. Submerge the chickens in fresh cold water and leave for 15 minutes – repeat this step four times to wash out the salt.

Step 2: Blanching the chickens
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Place one chicken in the water and heat until it returns to the boil. Once the water is boiling, remove the chicken and place it in a large basin filled with iced water to quickly cool the skin. Repeat this step then place the chicken on a cooling rack covered with a tea towel and leave in the fridge for 8–12 hours or overnight. Repeat this process with the second chicken.

Step 3: Roasting the chickens
Preheat the oven to 60°C, place the chickens in a roasting pan and put in the oven. Cook until the internal temperature of the chickens has reached 60°C, which will take between 4 and 7 hours. (You can check the temperature using a meat thermometer). Remove the chickens from the oven and leave to rest for approximately one hour.

Step 4: Browning the chickens
Heat a heavy-based pan until it is smoking. Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and use tongs to place the chickens in the oil. Turn and brown the skin, handling them carefully to avoid tearing the skin. Remove the chickens from the heat – they’re now ready to be carved.

Potatoes fondant with tasty jus

This is a gorgeous classic potato dish that’s not as common these days as it might be. The resulting potatoes are rich, buttery and crispy – the perfect accompaniment to the roasted chook. Make this simple dish the day before you need it and reheat at the last minute.

  • 6–8 large agria or other floury potatoes
  • 100g butter, diced
  • 4 tbsp water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock

Peel the potatoes and cut into slices approximately 2cm thick.

Put the butter and water in a large heavy-bottom saucepan and place the potatoes on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and gently braise the potatoes in the butter mixture over a low to medium heat for 10–15 minutes until they’re golden on one side. Then turn them over and cook for another 10 minutes. The potatoes are now ready to serve. Alternatively, place in the fridge and reheat in the oven just before serving.

Chicken jus: Remove the potatoes from the pan, leaving the butter. Add 1–2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce until the stock has halved in volume. Be sure to scrape up any remaining bits of crunchy potato. Pour jus into a small jug to serve.

Blanched broccoli

  • Boiling water, heavily salted
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped into chunks

Drop the broccoli into the boiling water and simmer for a few minutes or until just cooked.

Angus says …
The stalk of the broccoli, which most people throw away, is the best part. Instead, cut off the stalk, peel away the outer skin and chop it into chunks to cook together with the florets.

Chicken stock

Stock is so simple and easy to make. Don’t waste the bones from your roast – they’ll make a beautifully seasoned stock and it’ll be far tastier (and better for you) than any store-bought stock.

  • 2 leeks
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 sticks celery
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 chicken carcasses (left over from the roast chickens)

Wash and roughly chop the veggies, then place all the ingredients in a large stock pot.

Fill with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 3–4 hours, skimming the scum off the top at regular intervals.

Pass the stock through a fine sieve, rest at room temperature for 1 hour, then place in the fridge.

Use this stock for the soup, pie and jus recipes. It will keep in the fridge for four days or can be frozen for up to four months.

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