I was reading about the Melbourne Food Festival’s celebration of the winter roast with multiple restaurants in Melbourne and regional areas creating special menus over the month of June and felt inspired to roast an organic chicken. I read up Maggie Beer’s recipes and decided to fill the chook with limes, rosemary, bay leaves, 1/2 whole head of garlic, oil, salt and pepper and then massaged the flesh with olive oil and rubbed it with Berbere spice mix (from the spice shop in Rathdowne St, Carlton). I tied the legs together and placed the chicken leg side up in the roasting dish with potatoes, pumpkins, shallots and fennel. I roasted the chook for 20 minutes in 200* C before basting it with verjuice and rotating to the other leg side up for 20 minutes more cooking. After thoroughly basting the chicken with more verjuice I placed it breast side up and cooked it for a further 20 minutes before taking it out of the oven and resting it for 15- 20 minutes (rest breast side down). The pan juices made a lovely gravy flavoured with lime, garlic, verjuice, herbs and of course chicken.
The next day I roasted the chicken carcass with vegetables before making an asian style chicken stock with lemon grass, lime leaves, ginger, garlic and chilli. After cooking on a low heat for 3 hours I strained the stock and made a lovely refreshing soup with more vegetables and pieces of chicken.
When I was a kid roast chicken was served on a Sunday and it somehow stretched out to feed a whole family with some left over for sandwiches the next day. Just how did they make food go so far? Chicken is quite a cheap meat compared to other proteins and so versatile, I like the thigh fillet best it has more taste than the breast and doesn’t dry out like the breast does. Of course chicken wings are pretty special marinated and cooked to perfection in a sticky, spicy marinade- see the blog on our friend Davo’s spicy chicken wings. The local butcher in Portarlington makes an amazing boned chicken stuffed with macadamias and herbs, Pasta man cooks this in the Webber and it is pretty hard to beat, so yummy!