On a slightly hungover Sunday (these 30th birthday shindigs are ruining my constitution) and after a probably ill advised trip to Ikea with my new housemates (my Ikea catalogue knowledge is concerning as it transpires) I had the ridiculous notion that cooking a chicken dinner would be a good idea. Due to a lack of suitable ingredients and desire to go for the full roast, I decided to go for a super easy, bung it all in the oven fridge-clear-out type affair. And I have to say, I’d make it again!
My chicken was from my favourite butchers, was less than £6 and was worth every penny. New housemate Alex (later, and not to my face so I think he meant it) declared it “The best chicken of my life“. I’ll take about 5% credit for that and another 5% goes to the amount of butter involved but the rest was down to it just being a damn good bird to start with.
The process here assumes that you have a decent size oven with room to put 3 layers at once. If you only have a smaller oven, you may need to start a bit earlier and roast the veg while the chicken is resting or roast the veg around the chicken in a larger tray.
For the Chicken:
1 Whole Chicken
100g Salted Butter (soft)
1 tbsp Garlic Paste
2 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes
2 tsp Paprika
10 Sage Leaves (or 2 tbsp Dried Sage)
For the Roast Sweet Potatoes:
2 Large Sweet Potatoes
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsbp Sea Salt Flakes
For the Roast Red Onions:
4 Medium Red Onions
4 tbsp Low Fat Cream Cheese
6 Sprigs Thyme
1 tbsp Grain Mustard
1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
For the Maple Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:
250g Vine-Ripened Cherry Tomatoes
2 tbsp Maple Syrup
1tsp Garlic Paste
1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
4 handfuls Baby Spinach
2 tbsp Cornflour
Preheat the oven to 200c or equivalent.
Using a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, remove the wing tips, parsons’s nose (google it), the neck remnants, knuckles and any extra flaps of skin from around the opening of 1 Whole Chicken. Place the chicken in a lined baking tray, not much bigger than the chicken.
Mix together 100g Salted Butter (soft), 1 tbsp Garlic Paste, 2 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes, 2 tsp Paprika and 10 finely chopped Sage Leaves. Spread the buttery mix all over the chicken, not forgetting the legs and underside.
Put the chicken on the top shelf of the oven.
While the chicken starts to roast, peel 2 Large Sweet Potatoes and cut into 1 inch chunks. Add the chunks to a lined roasting tray and toss them in 2 tbsp Olive Oil and 1 tsbp Sea Salt Flakes.
Put the sweet potatoes on the middle shelf of the oven after the chicken has been in for about 30 minutes.
Top, tail, halve (horizontally so you can see the rings) and peel 4 Medium Red Onions. Place cut side up in a small roasting tray. Cover with Frylight and put into the oven on the bottom shelf.
Halve (horizontally) 250g Vine-Ripened Cherry Tomatoes and lay in one layer in a small roasting tray. Sprinkle 2 tbsp Maple Syrup, 1tsp Garlic Paste and 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes over the tomatoes and put the tomatoes on the bottom oven shelf.
Tip – You could combine the onions and tomatoes into one tray to save space/washing up.
At this time take the chicken out of the oven and drain the juices into a small saucepan. Set the juices aside and return the chicken to the oven. Give the sweet potatoes a toss whilst you’re in the oven.
Mix together 4 tbsp Low Fat Cream Cheese, 6 Sprigs Thyme, 1 tbsp Grain Mustard and 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes. Set aside.
Once the chicken has been in the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes, drain any further juice and return it to the pan upside down so the bottom will crisp up.
Toss the potatoes again, shake the tomatoes and take the onions out. They should be soft most of the way through by now.
Spread the cream cheese mix over the onions – a generous half tbsp over each onion half should be about even. Put the onions back into the oven.
20 minutes after the chicken last went back in, remove it from the oven, drain any more juices and check that it is cooked by slicing between the thigh and breast and checking if the juices run clear. If the meat is overly pink or juices are a bit pink, put the chicken back in and check it at 5 minute intervals. Don’t panic and overcook – trust your instinct.
Take the chicken out, turn it the right side up and cover with foil. Set aside to rest. Add any remaining pan juices to the saucepan.
Check the sweet potatoes, tomatoes and onions. They can stay in the oven for anything up to another 15-20 minutes if needs be. They should be crispy around the edges but watch the tomatoes especially closely as the maple syrup can easily catch and burn.
Meanwhile, mix 2 tbsp Cornflour with cold water to make a slurry. Put the small saucepan of cooking juices onto a medium heat and once simmering, add the cornflour slurry a little a time whilst whisking. Keep adding until the sauce is a drizzling thickness of your liking. By this time some further juice will have collected around the rested chicken, add this to the sauce too.
Remove the sweet potatoes, red onions and tomatoes from the oven and carve the chicken. Serve the food between 4 plates along with 4 handfuls Baby Spinach and drizzle the sauce over the whole plate.