Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Chicken v Chicken

I had intended to do a bit of cooking over the bank holiday and put a recipe or two up here. Due to being hungover on Sunday I roasted a chicken. It's sort of my default cooking plan: Hungover? Roast a chicken. Uninspired? Roast a chicken. In a strange kitchen? Roast a chicken. It's a friend's birthday and a small group turn up unannounced at 7 in the evening asking what we're doing for supper? Find that I'm already roasting a chicken.

Now the important thing is to get a decent chicken. If you have a decent chicken and keep an eye on it (and can identify when it's about to go wrong) it will turn out fine. Our butcher is really good, and his chickens have always been excellent.

Nevertheless, I'm going to talk about two slightly different roast chicken recipes here. Both of them make a good chicken very tasty indeed, and will prevent a half-decent chicken drying up and generally becoming unpleasant (if the chicken isn't even half decent, make chicken soup or coq au vin - that's what those dishes are for).

The two recipes I'm currently undecided between are Jamie Oliver's Fantastic Roast Chicken and Nigel Slater's Roast Chicken (not online although he has one that look like a hybrid between the one in Real Cooking and Oliver's here - hardly anyone clicks on my links anyway, so no loss there). Oliver's needs a bit more preparation, but you basically leave it in the oven as the butter keeping it moist is already inside the skin. Slater's is much more about just shoving everything onto the chicken and getting it in the oven, but you need to baste it in the butter that's run off a couple of times during cooking. So it's a toss up which is actually easier, although if you're hungover when you need to get dinner on, Slater wins. I like both the chickens. My occasional food critics generally prefer Oliver's chicken, but that might be an artifact of my not being hungover while cooking.

The obvious[1] thing to do is hold a chicken roast off and blind taste test. If anyone is interested in joining in, let me know. I'm currently too disorganised and lazy to sort out a date and venue, but now I've put it on the internet it'll have to happen.

One last thing: no matter how much you dislike carving, and even if it's someone's birthday, don't put candles on the chicken. Noone will ever be impressed at having to cut the "Chickencake".

[1] Obvious to me, anyway.
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