Monday, 8 June 2009

Roast Chicken with Buttery Potatoes

I was watching Masterchef on Friday and I really liked the look of the Roast Chicken and Buttery Potatoes that George cooked in the Masterclass. I have never really handled a chicken carcass before but I had always wanted to roast a whole chicken, I've just never been confident enough to try.

This was a little bit easier as it was only the chicken breasts on the bone being roasted. D doesn't like dark meat, so this was perfect for him and the size was better as there are only two of us.

The problem that I had was that Masterchef don't publish actual recipes for the Masterclass recipes, you are given the video clip but the specifics aren't always given. Despite this, I decided to give it a go.

Earlier this morning we went out to the local market and picked up the chicken and herbs (and preserved lemon). We got home, I put the chicken on my board and remembered that I can't stand the feel of raw chicken. I hate it. I handle chicken as little as possible and I'm quite skilled at it because we eat chicken an awful lot. I solved the problem by digging up a handful of food handling rubber gloves and set to the chicken with a cleaver.

I couldn't find the wishbone. I watched George take the wishbone out, I looked at the illustrations on Cook's Illustrated and I had no idea what I was looking for on my chicken. As it turns out, in my hacking I did manage to remove it, because it wasn't there when I was carving it.

The legs/thighs came off really easily, I used them for an easy slow cooker lunch. I was very proud, but then I went a few steps too far and started hacking without a really good idea of what I was supposed to do and cut out the spine, which meant I no longer had a cavity in which to stuff things. I thought that if that was the worst thing that came out of my chicken massacre, I did pretty well.

Two halves

When it comes to cooking, the most obvious thing that they didn't mention was what temperature the oven needs to be. I went back to Cook's Illustrated and checked out their recipe for an easy roast chicken and decided to set my oven at 190 degrees Celcius.

The next step was to seal the chicken in a hot frypan until browned lightly on each side. I cooked mine for about two minutes on each side. I actually think that Masterchef cooked their chicken a lot longer on the stovetop because George says that it should only need 8 minutes on each breast in the oven. Mine took much longer than this in the oven.

After the chicken had browned, I added about 20 cloves of unpeeled garlic, 5 shallots and a red onion (D loves red onion) to the frypan and tossed them about. I'm not sure why, that's just what they did on the video. Then move chicken, garlic and onions to a roasting tray. Next you are supposed to stuff the chicken, but since I didn't have a cavity left, I just made a nice little pile of rosemary, thyme and sage and lined the back of the breastbone with preserved lemons.

I gave it a little drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and into the oven it went. This took approx 50 minutes to cook at 190 degrees Celcius.

After the chicken went into the oven I turned to the potatoes. In the Masterclass, George cuts little cylinders from the potatoes using a cutter. I just cut my potatoes into thick slices and then trimmed off the skin. The potatoes go into a frying pan of melted butter and it looks like heaps of butter. Heaps. So, I used heaps. I tried melting 125g of butter with some grapeseed oil, but once I added the potatoes I couldn't deal with all the fat and strained a good deal of the butter off.

Anyway, the potatoes fried away for a little bit. I wasn't sure what I was looking for with them. I let them get a little bit of colour on one side and then flipped them over to colour the other side. After maybe 6 or 7 minutes in total where I really didn't know how I was supposed to cook these stupid potatoes, I added some chicken stock, turned the heat down and left them to boil away.

After about 25 minutes of chicken cooking, I realised that the potatoes would be cooked well before the chicken, so I took them off the heat, threw in some thyme and covered the pan.

potatoes after coming off the heat

After the chicken had cooked for nearly 45 minutes I was concerned that the garlic and onions would burn, so I added a very small amount of chicken stock to the bottom of the roasting tray.

The chicken came out of the oven at 51 minutes and I let it rest for about 6 minutes.

I deglazed the roasting tray with some white wine and let the whole tray (vegetables and all) sit over the heat until the pan juices and wine reduces right down. It was quite shocking at how quickly it went from being watery juices to being a reduction just about ready to burn on the edges. I had wandered off to check the chicken and nearly didn't get to it in time.

While the chicken rested and the sauce was reducing, I put the potatoes back on the heat and warmed them gently.

Carve the breasts off the chicken and serve with onions, garlic and potatoes and a little sprinkle of thyme and black pepper.

It was awesome. The chicken was so moist and juicy and full of flavour. The potatoes were also really tasty, but the amount of butter (even after I strained heaps off) they were cooked in made me a little bit hesitant about them. I didn't want to enjoy them so much that I'd be tempted to cook them again.

The whole meal was devine. George called the dish a sexy little restaurant dish. Well, I don't really know how food can be sexy, but it certainly was awesome. I'd love to see how a professional chef would make it taste but I am so proud of my efforts.


  1. Do these potatoes have a name- or are they just called butter potatoes? I remember seeing them on Masterchef a few times and want to recreate them myself.
    Your meal looks lovely.

  2. Hi A Dutch Brit!

    I actually don't know if they have a name. I have only seen them on Masterchef. I didn't use any special variety of potato, just standard supermarket ones. I think the butter part comes from how they are cooked, because they still turned out really well.

  3. Yes! I have found them- loks like they are called Fondant potatoes and can be cooked either in the oven or on the stove.
    Straange how my search took me on the other side of the world! Your blog looks interesting- I think I'll be lingering.

  4. Wow Vanessa, that's awesome. I'm going to have to try them again, with a recipe this time.

    I have no idea how you found them, but thank you!!!