CLASSIC OF CLASSICS
Throwback Thursday: Roast chicken with hot and cold green sauce
It’s called a brathendl (roast/brat hendl/chicken) in Austro-Bavarian. Peruvians have their pollo asado, southern Americans their blackened chicken. For much of the rest of the world it’s simply roast chicken, the ultimate comfort food.
Let’s get a hendl on roast chicken. Rotisseries where plump, golden chickens turn on the spit to gleaming perfection can be found throughout the world, and in South Africa they’ve long been a feature of our big supermarkets. In earlier years, in the Sixties and Seventies, there were chicken-lick’n good chain stores devoted entirely to the humble roast chicken, bought whole, half, or in quarters.
But there’s an art to roast chicken. The chicken must be cooked to the bone, no pink at all, but it must be succulent and juicy too, the flesh soft, no sign of dryness in sight.
We don’t all have the luxury of a home rotisserie, and that’s arguably the best way of ensuring perfectly golden, crispy skin while the meat inside cooks all the way through. But we can learn to balance the settings of our own ovens with the time it takes to achieve that and, again, ovens are all different so yours may behave differently from mine.
The way to test for doneness is to pierce through the thickest part of the breast with a bamboo skewer, all the way to the bone, and scrutinise the entry point. The ensuing juices will run either pink (not done) or clear (done). If red, it’s far from cooked; if pink, you’re nearly there.
To stuff or not to stuff? Entirely up to you. For me, stuffing must be inside the bird, not in a loaf tin alongside it. The latter defeats the object, which is for the aromatics in the stuffing to flavour the chicken from inside. Cooking stuffing separately is the silliest thing imaginable, and perhaps the original example of the infuriating trend for “deconstructed” cuisine. A deconstructed pie is not a pie; it’s pastry served alongside what should be its filling.
Imagine buying a deconstructed car.
“But why’s the engine alongside the car, in the driveway?”
“It’s a deconstructed car, sir; it’s all the rage.”
“Oh right; makes perfect sense now that you’ve explained it. Please call me an uber, I need to get to work.”
The recipe to follow pays tribute to the pollo asado tradition of Peru, and is for a whole, large chicken that is first marinated for a few hours, then roasted at a very high temperature with occasional basting, for about 90 minutes. Or until, as described above, the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. It is then served with a “hot and cold” sauce. It’s cold in temperature, but it’s hot with spice; it’s a cool green in colour too, adding to the sense of coolth while the palate tingles with the “heat” of its flavours. I think it makes a, yes, cool accompaniment for roast chicken.
For the chicken and its marinade:
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp coarse sea/ kosher salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 large chicken
1 cup of chicken stock
For the hot and cold green sauce:
2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup chopped coriander leaves
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ cup quality mayonnaise
200 ml sour cream
Juice of 2 limes
½ tsp coarse sea/ kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp quality extra virgin olive oil
Add all the marinade ingredients (except for the chicken, obviously) to the bowl of a food processor and blitz.
Rinse the bird and pat dry, thoroughly. Season the cavity with salt and pepper.
Prise open the narrow end of the breast skin and run a finger inside to loosen the skin from the meat. Use a narrow wooden spoon to push some of the marinade as far as you can under the skin on both sides, several times, then smooth the skin from on top to move the marinade around.
Brush the remainder of the marinade all over the skin, top and bottom. Leave it to marinate in the fridge for four hours or more.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220℃. Season the chicken skin with salt and pepper. Place the bird on an oiled roasting tray and roast in the oven for 90 minutes or until the juices run clear, basting now and then with the pan juices. One hour into the cook, remove it from the oven and flick off any blackened garlic bits. Turn the heat up to 240℃ and return the chicken to the oven to blast the skin.
Once done, remove from the oven for the meat to rest, after removing the bird to a separate dish. Spoon off excess fat, then add a cup of chicken stock and reduce on a high heat to make a sauce to serve with the chicken as well as the hot and cold green sauce.
For the hot and cold green sauce:
Add the chillies, coriander, garlic, mayonnaise, sour cream, limes juice, salt, pepper and olive oil to the bowl of a food processor and blitz to a pale green sauce. That’s it, done. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.
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