I really was gonna be done with her for good.
A while back, I picked up a jar of chestnut spread. I was really intrigued but didn’t know what to do with it so I turned to a couple of chefs I follow on Twitter. I was particularly hoping Nigella Lawson would reply because I wanted to make something sexy with it and she seemed just the person to know. Did I really expect any of them to promptly reply to my query? No. But Michael Ruhlman (I love you) actually did, suggesting I have it with pork. It looked like I wasn’t gonna hear from Nigella which, while sad, was not surprising. But then it got ugly.
While obsessively refreshing my Twitter feed hoping to get a reply from the other chefs, I saw that Nigella had tweeted something along the lines of being a lazy bum and eating truffles in bed. Huwat? Here I am, reaching out and hoping against all hope that she satiate my burning curiosity on how to sexy-fy chestnut spread and she has the gall to tweet about eating truffles in bed?? How rude! How insensitive! I immediately found my way to her profile to click “Unfollow” while muttering, THIS IS WHY YOU’RE TUBBY. Yeah, I was really bitter about it.
I was pretty good about cutting her off. I switched channels when she came on. I looked away from her cookbooks. But not for long. I don’t know what came over me but I decided to sit through one of her TV shows one night and that’s all it took for me to go crawling back. She’s so beautiful. I don’t even have to elaborate on what she does with food. And that thing she has with words!
So to celebrate my rekindled romance with Nigella, I decided to kindle my oven and make her slow roasted chicken. It’s ridiculously easy and absolutely delicious. Curiously, this recipe has no salt. Maybe the juices released by a chicken that’s roasted this long is supposed to suffice (I wouldn’t know, I’ve never roasted a chicken this long) but I didn’t wanna take my chances and added salt. So my recipe looked like this:
1 chicken (about 2 kg) chopped into pieces
A bunch fresh thyme
1 bulb garlic
3 T olive oil
2/3 cup white wine
About 3/4 t salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 160 C/ 325 F. Quarter the lemons and separate the garlic cloves (no need to peel). Place the chicken pieces, lemon, garlic cloves, fresh thyme, olive oil and salt into a baking dish and mix everything with your hands. Arrange the chicken pieces so skin side is up. Drizzle with white wine and freshly ground black pepper.
And that’s all there is to it! This goes in the oven, covered with foil, and bakes for 2 hours.
You will need a bigger, deeper baking dish than this for everything to go smoothly. About 3o minutes in, the juices started to overflow and I had to drain mine a couple of times. I didn’t want my chicken to dry out so I worked some of the juices back in but still had a lot left over which I turned into gravy.
Sigh. I was gonna get a bigger oven last week but I saw my credit card bill and my small ghetto oven started looking really good. Oh, well.
2. After 2 hours, turn up the oven to 200 C/400 F and uncover the chicken. Roast for 30-45 minutes, until the chicken pieces turn a deep golden brown.
While my chicken was finishing up, I whipped up a quick and easy side of cauliflower mash for which you’ll need:
2 medium heads cauliflower
1/4 of an 8 oz. bar of cream cheese
About 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
A pinch nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Chop up the cauliflower. Add to a big pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook until the cauliflower can be easily pierced with a fork, about 8 minutes (but really depends on how big your cauliflower chunks are).
2. Drain and bring back to pot. Turn down the heat and leave the cauliflower in the dry pot for a couple of minutes so it can steam off excess moisture. When done, transfer to a medium bowl and mash. You can use a potato masher or do this in a food processor. I have neither so I used a pastry cutter.
3. When mashed to your liking, add in cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg.
I set this aside to make way for chicken which was smelling phenomenal by the way.
To serve, I started with gravy (roux + juices + water + freshly ground black pepper + chicken powder to taste) and a bed of cauliflower mash topped with chicken and garnished with a caramelized chunk of lemon.
Oi, so fancy! The pornographic glisten on the lemon and chicken is brought to you by a drizzling of pan juices.
I love this chicken so much. It’s absolutely beautiful and requires very little work. It’s also quite tender. I wonder how much more tender and flavorful it would have been if my juices stayed in the pan the whole time. The cauliflower mash was a bit too rich with this dish although the salad on the side helped.
I can’t wait to make this again. I think I just might buy a new oven for it.
And Nigella. Oh, Nigella. I’m so happy I gave us another shot.
Fun Food Fact: The name cauliflower means “cabbage flower”.