|Roast chicken replaces turkey on a simple yet still traditional Christmas dinner plate|
Is turkey the automatic choice for your family's table on Christmas Day? Do you fancy something a little bit different this year, which retains the traditional look of Christmas dinner but offers a little bit of variety in terms of taste and texture? If so, what could provide a better option than chicken? It is easy to prepare, hugely popular and may also eliminate the possibility of an excessive and ultimately off-putting quantity of leftovers. This dish is very straightforward to prepare, with a minimum of hands-on time required in the kitchen, leaving you more time to spend enjoying Christmas Day with your family.
Ingredients (Serves 4 to 6)
6 pound free range, organic chicken
2 small clementine oranges
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 sprigs of fresh)
Salt and pepper
1 medium sized baking potato per person
6 Brussels sprouts per person (or as required)
|Stuffing turkey with orange, lemon and thyme|
Start by getting your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 while you prepare the chicken. Wash the chicken well in cold water and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Season the cavity of the bird with salt, pepper and the thyme. Very roughly chop the clementines and the lemon and add them also to the cavity of the chicken.
|Stuffed, seasoned and oiled chicken is ready to be raosted|
It is vital at this stage to weigh the chicken and obtain its gross weight, including the stuffing. If you fail to do so, you will not be able to calculate the cooking time correctly. The simple formula for the cooking time is twenty minutes per pound in weight plus twenty extra minutes. This formula really does work incredibly well and saves a lot of testing and re-testing the cooking chicken.
Lightly oil a roasting tray and sit the chicken on it, breasts side up. Drizzle the top of the chicken with more olive oil and rub it in all over and evenly with your hands. Liberally season the top of the chicken with salt. These two steps make for beautifully golden, crispy skin. Put the chicken in to the oven for the calculated cooking time.
When the chicken is in the oven, peel and very roughly chop the potatoes. Add them to a pot of cold, salted water and bring the water to a simmer for around ten minutes, just to partly cook the potatoes. Drain them and return them to the pot, cover and leave to cool completely.
|Testing the roast chicken is fully cooked|
Even though the calculation by weight should produce perfect results, it is still important to check the chicken is fully cooked when you take it from the oven. The simple way I do this is by sticking a metal skewer in to both the thickest part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast and ensuring the juices run clear. Assuming they do and no further cooking is required, the chicken must now be left alone to rest for at least twenty minutes.
|Starting to portion a roast chicken|
You could of course simply carve the chicken as you would a turkey but I prefer to separate it in to portions. I firstly remove the leg portions by simply pulling the legs gently outwards while I slice through the skin with a knife. They should pull free very easily. I then remove the wings in the same way. The two fillets can then carefully be sliced off on either side of the central breast bone, allowing the rib cage to guide your knife.
|Portioned roast chicken|
You may need to cook your potatoes in batches, depending upon how many you are preparing. They are simply deep fried in fairly hot oil for about five minutes until golden and crispy before being drained on a plate covered with kitchen paper.
|Deep frying parboiled potatoes|
The sprouts are washed and trimmed before any dead or damaged leaves are removed and they are added to a pot of boiling, salted water. They should be cooked for about eight minutes until just softened but still firm. Drain them and return to the pot before adding some butter and a sprinkling of grated nutmeg to season. Swirl gently to evenly coat all the sprouts in the spicy butter.
|Butter and nutmeg are added to Brussels sprouts|
The meal can then be simply plated, portioning the chicken as you desire, with some whole berry cranberry sauce providing a delicious final touch as well as a further taste of the traditional turkey dinner.
|Traditional cranberry sauce is plated with the roast chicken Christmas dinner|