Roast chicken reinvented four ways

Roast chicken with haloumi stuffing.
Roast chicken with haloumi stuffing. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Roast chicken never gets old. As in never ever ever gets old. There are countless variations, flavourings and culinary persuasions. Nineteenth Century gourmet Brillat Savarin claimed the humble chicken is a culinary blank canvas. And that's what we love the most, the humble bird can be dressed up and dressed down. With a bit of love and imagination even the most basic of dishes is chock full of gourmet goodness.

The issue is not so much one of flavour – you get what you pay for in that department – but texture: the roast chicken holy grail of juicy meat and crisp skin. And these recipes will set you on the path. They will help you levitate your Sunday dinner or mid-week roast chook into a veritable bird of paradise.

Haloumi, mint and pomegranate roast chook

INGREDIENTS

1 free-range organic chicken, butterflied and cut into four pieces

Haloumi stuffing

1 handful mint leaves, finely chopped

1 small handful fresh oregano, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

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zest of 1 lemon

150g to 180g haloumi, grated

Dressing

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 lemon, quartered (optional)

Greek-style yoghurt, coriander leaves and pomegranate arils, to serve

METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 190C.

2. Combine the stuffing ingredients in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss together.

3. Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Using clean fingers, gently and carefully separate the skin from the breast, then push the stuffing under the skin, spreading as widely and evenly as possible – be very careful not to tear the skin.

4. Place the chicken pieces in a roasting tin,  top with the oil and pomegranate molasses, toss in the lemon wedges, and roast for 45 minutes or until the skin is golden brown, the juices run clear and the meat is cooked through. 

5. Remove from oven. Serve topped with Greek yoghurt, coriander and pomegranate.

Panch phoran spiced chicken with coconut and mint sambal. Roast chicken recipes for Good Food online February 2018. Please credit Katrina Meynink.

Indian spiced chicken with coconut and mint sambal, chutney and pappadums. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Panch phoran spiced chicken with coconut and mint sambal 

INGREDIENTS

1 good quality chicken (approx. 1.3kg)

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp panch phoran spice blend (available from Indian grocers, we used Herbie's brand)

Stuffing

¼ cup shredded coconut

2 tbsp garam masala

1 tbsp olive oil

Mint sambal

1½ cups fresh mint

1 onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, sliced

⅔ cup desiccated coconut

1 green chilli, chopped

¼ cup raisins

¼ tsp salt

juice and zest of 1 lime

Spicy tomato chutney, pappadums, steamed rice or greens, to serve

METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 180C.  

2. Mix the stuffing ingredients together. Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Using clean fingers, gently and carefully separate the skin from the breast then push the stuffing under the skin, spreading as widely and evenly as possible – be careful not to tear the skin.

3. Cover the top of the chicken in the coconut oil then sprinkle over the panch phoran, rubbing it in as you work.

4. Roast the chicken for approximately one hour, or until skin is golden and juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced. Remove from oven, cover the chicken loosely with foil and rest for 15 to 20 minutes. If you are concerned during the roasting time that the spicy skin is taking on too much colour, cover with foil and remove it for the last 15 minutes of cooking. You don't want the spices to burn as it will make them taste bitter.

5. To make the mint sambal, add all ingredients to a blender and pulse briefly to combine. Don't overwork it so the mixture becomes wet, you should still be able to see and taste all the components. Set aside.

6. Once rested, serve the chicken with the mint sambal and any other accompaniments. 

Spiced chicken with cauliflower and fennel cream. Roast chicken recipes for Good Food online February 2018. Please credit Katrina Meynink.

Spiced chicken with cauliflower and fennel cream. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Roasted spiced chicken with cauliflower and fennel cream

INGREDIENTS

1 organic chicken, cut into eight pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you)

butter for under the skin

salt to season

Cauliflower and fennel cream

1kg cauliflower, broken into florets

2 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced

2 small onions, thinly sliced

6 garlic cloves

300ml milk

300ml cream

Marinade

150ml Greek-style yoghurt

½ onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

15g (3cm piece) ginger, peeled and finely chopped

½ tsp each ras el hanout, black lime powder*, sumac, onion powder, cayenne pepper
(*if black lime powder is unavailable, add an extra ½ teaspoon sumac)

60ml (¼ cup) olive oil

METHOD

1. For the spiced yoghurt marinade, process ingredients (except oil) in a food processor until a paste forms, then stir in the oil.

2. Delicately lift the skin of the chicken pieces, being careful not to tear, and push small pieces of butter between the skin and meat. Place chicken in a non-reactive container, rub all over with marinade and refrigerate overnight for flavours to develop. 

3. For the cauliflower and fennel cream, combine all ingredients in a large saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook until cauliflower and fennel are tender (12 to 15 minutes). Using a hand-held blender or food processor, blend mixture until smooth and season to taste. Set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 200C. Heat a large cast-iron oven-proof frying pan over high heat, add 2 tablespoons oil, then season chicken to taste and cook skin-side down until golden (3 to 4 minutes). Turn, then transfer to oven and roast until cooked through. 

5. To serve, smear cauliflower and fennel cream on the base of each plate. Place over chicken pieces on top and squeeze over lemon juice.

Roast chicken with roasted leeks, lemon and hot feta and olive dressing. Roast chicken recipes for Good Food online February 2018. Please credit Katrina Meynink.

Swap baby leeks for spring onions if out of season. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Roast chook with leeks, lemon, olives and hot feta dressing

INGREDIENTS

1 chicken, the best quality you can afford (approx. 1.3kg), butterflied

1 preserved lemon, chopped

½ small bunch fresh oregano, leaves pulled

1 tbsp olive oil 

salt and pepper to season

1 small bunch baby leeks, trimmed (if unavailable, substitute the white part of spring onions)

1 cup mixed olives, pitted

1 tbsp olive oil

Hot feta dressing

60ml extra virgin olive oil

½ clove garlic, crushed

½ tbsp Dijon mustard

juice and zest of ½ lemon

100g Persian feta

sat and pepper to season

METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 190C. 

2. Place the chicken in a roasting tin and rub the bird with olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper then scatter over the preserved lemon and oregano leaves.

3. Place in the oven and roast for about 40 minutes or until skin is golden, and juices run clear when the thickest part of thigh is pierced. Cover loosely with foil and rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

4. While the chicken is resting, prepare the leeks. Toss the leeks and olives in the olive oil in a frying pan then place over low heat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the leeks are soft and caramelised and the olives are completely warmed through.

5. To make the dressing, whisk the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, mustard, lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan and season generously. Warm over low-medium heat. When ready to serve, stir through the feta.

6. To serve, place the chicken on a serving platter. Top with the leeks and olives then dollop the feta dressing .