Or were they sensible? A supermarket rotisserie has great skin, but that’s where the comparison to a home-cooked chicken stops. They’re dry, spindly little battery-hens, often overcooked, flavoured either too simply or with truckloads of horrible stuff like MSG.
Wouldn’t you rather have the juicy free-range one in this picture?
The other day, I found savoury at the local hypermarket. Here, they call it thyme, but it’s not thyme. The correct local name is Za’atar, which is confusing in itself, because za’atar is also a herb mix similar to a green dukkah, with the dried savoury, sesames seeds, salt and probably some other secret ingredients. It’s not rosemary, although that’s what it most closely resembles in appearance. It tastes like something in between, maybe with a touch of fragrance like dill, and it’s heavenly with roast chicken. And even better, it propagates easily. The cut herbs I bought have now started to grow on their own in some potting mix – simply cut off the bottom of the stem at an angle and plant. Let’s hope it continues, because this herb is something special!
- 1 chicken (no need to remove giblets unless they are in a plastic bag inside)
- 1 lemon
- 1 garlic bulb, halved parallel to root (so it exposes the inside)
- several stalks of savoury/za’atar
- sweet paprika to sprinkle
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp butter and 1tsp flour combined for gravy
- Preheat oven to 180ᵒC. Wash chicken inside and out, pat dry, and then stuff with lemon, garlic and savoury, then generously sprinkle bird with salt, pepper and paprika (particularly salt)
- Roast for 1 hour, or until the breast is cooked through, basting at least once during cooking (timing will depend on size of chicken – I use a 1400g to feed a family of 4)
- Reduce juices with the mix of butter and flour while the meat is resting, flavouring with extra salt and pepper if necessary, and chopped savoury.
I like to lay the bird on salted potato pieces in a non-stick pan. After it has been cooking for about 20 minutes, I prick the underside of the thighs, and all the fat rushes out, so the potatoes cook in the juices of the chicken. While the chicken is resting and you are preparing the gravy (with juice strained out between the potatoes), blast the potatoes on the top shelf of the oven at top heat if they need crisping up. I also serve with the pumpkin in the previous post, and roasted whole onions, which are simply peeled and added to the same pan as the chicken and potatoes at the same time. Oh, and some frozen peas – cooked of course. What an easy dinner!