It's a beautiful weekend here in Southern England. The sun has been shining, and that makes it warm enough to go for for a run in a tank-top, which is one of the most fickle, but sweetest aspects of English weather. It can be cruel, and deeply depressing for weeks on end, all year around, and then POOF! you get a glorious Spring weekend during the height of deep Winter.
This Roast Chicken is actually a dish that fits the bill in the coldest and rainiest of days, where you just want to be inside and cozy, or as amazing lunch that awaits you at the end of a long and muddy tromp through the fields on a sunny day. It has wonderful flavor combinations, that make it light and hearty at the same time. The lemon and the garlic give bright notes, while the bacon provides a great smoky undertone.
My favorite part of this dish are the croutons that the chicken is roasted on. Initially tossed in oil and garlic, they absorb all of the juices of the chicken, becoming lemony, garlicky, bacony, crunchy, golden nuggets. You have to take care not to let the croutons burn, so I tend to roast the chicken initially at high heat of around 180C, and then lower it after 35 minutes and finish cooking it slowly, and covered in foil.
Once the chicken is done cooking, the only thing you need to do is toss some greens into the mix. I would go with quick sauteéd kale in apple cider vinegar, or perhaps braised purple cabbage. You could go in a crunchier direction, perhaps a fennel salad with citrus notes.
This meal captures all the best of Winter in England, bright, fresh and sunny, deep, smoky and rich. For dark days or bright days, this roast is a great Sunday lunch.
Roast Chicken on a bed of Croutons
- 1 large organic chicken
- 2 lemons
- 6 large cloves of garlic
- 3-4 strips of smoked bacon
- Half a loaf of sourdough or crusty bread, cubed
- Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Rinse the chicken and pat the inside and the outside dry. Sprinkle liberally all over and inside the cavity with salt. Cut one of the lemons in half and put inside the cavity along with a smashed clove of garlic.
Loosen the chicken breast skin. Smash garlic until it makes a smooth paste. Smear the garlic paste under the chicken breast skin.
Toss the sourdough cubes in sunflower or veggie oil and add four cloves of crushed garlic. Toss until the sourdough is covered in oil. Spread the croutons in a baking dish. Place the chicken on top of the croutons. Place in the hot oven uncovered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, loosely cover with foil. Turn down the oven to 150C.
Chicken is done when the breast reads a temperature of 75C. Serve with garlicky greens, braised cabbage or a crunchy salad with a vinaigrette.