I’ve never been much of a roast chicken fan. Really, I’m not a fan of meat in general. Which is why over this cookbook challenge, when it comes to savoury options, there will be few red meat dishes (possibly none), and lots of chicken dishes. Now that I’ve said that, most of you will probably stop reading, because I’ve just told you I don’t eat almost a whole food group!
Never fear, baking will remain the focus of this blog, so there will always be a satisfying sweet recipe around the corner. I am however, trying to add a few more savoury recipes to the blog whilst I am doing my cookbook challenge. Not only does it help out with deciding what to make for dinner on the weekend, but some cookbooks in our collection don’t have sweet or baking sections and some just don’t appeal to me. So with using ALL the cookbooks in mind, sometimes a savoury dish here and there will have to be tolerated.
Having said that, if anyone could brighten up dinner and change my mind about roast chicken it’s Nigella. I know I’ve said this before (probably more than once), but I really love Nigella, her recipes and her love of food. I know in the past I have heard Nigella talking about how roast chicken is such a comforting dish, and up until I tried this recipe, I found it hard to agree. But now, I definitely do!
This dish is one of those that you just know is going to be good. And once you’ve made it a couple of times, it suddenly becomes a family favourite, requested over and over again. My Mum made this recipe originally, in an attempt to actually have all members of the family eat the same thing for dinner I suspect. I was suspicious at first, but I was soon eating my words, and the chicken with gusto.
For a while when this dish was first made, we couldn’t find the dried olives specified in the recipe. It was still a great dish, and if you haven’t tried it with the olives you won’t know what you’re missing out on. But, if you can find them, use them! They absolutely make this dish! We eventually found them at a local deli, so they are out there, and not too hard to find.
As this recipe has been made a few times at home, we have inevitably altered it slightly. We use two small chickens, and divide the stuffing between each. One chicken of the same total weight will also be perfect. Orange capsicums can sometimes be hard to find, so substitute another yellow one to make up the difference. We often serve this chicken with garlic roast potatoes, which should be prepared and put in the oven about 30 minutes or so after the chicken goes in, so they are ready together.
x 2 small chickens (approx. 1.5-2kg total weight), or one larger 1.5-2kg (approx.) chicken
1 lemon, halved
4 sprigs of rosemary
3 leeks, washed and trimmed
2 red capsicums
1 orange capsicum
1 yellow capsicum
100-200g dried black olives*, (pitted if possible)
60 ml olive oil
sea salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Cut each leek into three (length ways), and add to a large baking/roasting pan. De-seed the capsicums, and cut into thick strips, and add to the pan.
Sit the chickens on top of the vegetables in the pan, and place half a lemon in each chicken cavity, and two sprigs of rosemary. If using one whole chicken, place both halves of the lemon, and all the rosemary in the cavity of the chicken.
Drizzle the chickens and vegetables with the olive oil (ensuring the vegetables are fairly evenly coated), and scatter in the dried olives amongst the vegetables. Sprinkle the tops of the chickens with a little salt and pepper.
Place in the oven for 1 - 1 1/4 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices of the chicken run clear when the flesh is cut at the thickest part of the thigh joint.
Transfer the chickens to a carving board or plates, cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Place the vegetables back in the oven (reducing the oven temperature if they are well cooked), to keep warm.
Remove the vegetables from the oven, and cut the chicken up into pieces. Toss the chicken with the vegetables in the pan and serve.
*Nigella’s original recipe specifies 100g of olives. We often buy up to 200g as a few of us are obsessed with them! If you aren’t so keen on black olives, keep it to 100g.
Original Recipe from ‘Nigellissima’ by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, 2012), p.96 or via Nigella's website.
All cooking, styling and photography for this post by Kathryn Vincent of Kulinary Adventures of Kath.