HELLO and welcome to all about food. This week has a French influence…. Enjoy.
I’m getting a little frustrated with my bland roast chicken! Do you have any recipes that make for more interesting meal times?
Fran, Limerick city
I am a big fan of roast chicken, in fact I think it’s one of my top five favourite meals! Though I could eat chicken roasted with lemon and rosemary on a weekly basis, I do tend to shake things up a little… for fear that I may tire of such a divine dish!
Poulet sauté Grand-Mere is a traditional French dish - hence the nod to Grand Mere/Grandmother. Whenever the description ‘grand-mere’ appears in any French recipe title, expect to find lardons, mushrooms, onions and potatoes. Though there are many variations for this recipe, I like to keep things as simple as possible… serving from one platter seems more convivial.
Regarding the chicken you use, I have no desire to lecture anyone on what to buy. What I will say is that although free-range and organic chickens do cost a little more, you are supporting better practices in relation to animal welfare and tend to get good value for money, considering, for example, the carcass makes a good quality stock for soups or risottos.
Poulet sauté Grand-Mère
1 chicken, about 1.5kg
1 lemon, quartered
1 sprig each of thyme and rosemary
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
250g of shallots, peeled and left whole
250g of bacon lardons
250g of button mushrooms
1kg of waxy potatoes such as Charlotte potatoes, halved lengthways
A glass of white wine (about 175ml)
100ml of good quality chicken stock
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºc. Weigh the chicken for the precise weight and calculate the roasting times (20 minutes per lb/500g plus 20 minutes). Place a rack inside the roasting dish, season the chicken and rub butter over the skin. Stuff the lemon quarters, herbs and garlic into the chicken and place on the rack and in the oven.
Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a medium size frying pan, add the lardons and shallots and fry over a medium heat for five minutes or until the shallots are golden brown. Remove the shallots and lardons from the pan, add a generous knob of butter to the same pan and fry the mushrooms until they are golden.
After the chicken has been roasting for thirty minutes, remove the dish from the oven. Lift out the chicken, add the potatoes, shallots, lardons and mushrooms to the roasting dish, return the chicken (on the rack) to the pan and return to the oven for the remaining roasting time.
When the chicken is cooked through, place on a serving platter, cover with foil and allow to rest. Place the mushrooms, potatoes, shallots and bacon in an ovenproof dish, and put back in the oven at a low temperature to keep warm. Tilt the roasting dish and using a large metal spoon remove the excess fat from the surface of the cooking juices. Place the tin over a medium high heat; add the stock and wine, scraping any sediment from the base of the tin. Allow the gravy to boil for a few minutes until reduced by half. Stir in the remaining juices from the platter with the chicken, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Cut the chicken into serving portions. Scatter the vegetables and lardons over the chicken, pour over the juices and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.