Sunday roasts were a big tradition in our house growing up (as was the good natured bickering over who got the chicken leg and who got the chicken breast), and while I can’t quite organise myself to cook one of these every weekend, this does remain a firm favourite. It’s also surprisingly straightforward to cook (and tastes fab).
• A whole medium sized chicken
• A white onion
• A lemon
• Four peeled carrots
• Baking potatoes (I use two large ones per person)
• Vegetable accompaniments – in our house we go for broccoli and carrots usually
• A few table spoons of vegetable oil
• Vegetable stock/gravy granules (depending on preference)
Then for the Yorkshire Puddings – this is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe. The extra egg yolks make for a lovely rich batter.
• 250g plain flour
• 1 level tsp salt
• 4 medium eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
• 300ml milk
• 300ml water
• 2 tbsps olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.
2. Chop the onion and lemon into quarters, and place in the neck cavity of your chicken.
3. Take a good sized roasting tin and put the four peeled carrots in the bottom of it. Place your chicken on top of the carrots, so they can act as a trivet for the meat to cook evenly. Season your chicken if you so desire.
4. Put the chicken in the oven to cook for around an hour – preferably in the centre of the oven. On the top shelf put the tray you’re going to cook your potatoes in, with a generous glug of vegetable oil – enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
5. Meanwhile, peel your potatoes and cut them into 3 inch-ish chunks. Put them in a pan of boiling salted water and let them cook for 10-15 minutes. They’ll be ready to take out when you can prod one with a fork and it ‘gives’ a bit.
6. Drain your potatoes. Don’t hesitate to throw them about a bit as you do so – the rougher edges will make for crispy potato when you roast them. Once you’ve drained off the excess water, take the tray of (by now hopefully hot) oil out of the oven and put your potatoes in ready for roasting. Make sure to coat all sides of each potato with the hot oil, either by turning the spuds or using a spoon to drizzle the oil over them all. Pop them back in the oven with the chicken.
7. Next up is preparing the batter for your Yorkshire puddings (our version of what I believe you American folk call popovers), an essential part of any Sunday roast. Put the flour and salt into a large basin and (as energetically as possible – the air helps) beat in the eggs and yolks. Once it’s thoroughly mixed together whisk in the combined milk and water, a little at a time until you have a smooth batter (you can use a hand blender if you’d rather). Once you’ve made the batter put it in a jug and leave it in the fridge to chill until you need it (you’ll need to give it another quick stir before you do so).
8.Now prep your accompanying vegetables ready for cooking. We’re a bit boring in my house so mostly this means chopping carrots and broccoli florets into little pieces ready to boil for 10 minutes or so at the end. Put a stock cube in the water to add to the flavour.
9. Assuming I don’t have my boyfriend helping prep the veg, by the time I’ve chopped everything I’m usually ready to get the chicken out of the oven and rest it. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s looking golden brown and cooked through – you can check this by sticking a skewer into the breast at the thickest part – if the juices run clear (and there’s no blood!) then you’re all good.
10. Whack the temperature up on the oven to 220C (425F or gas mark 7), move your potatoes down (or take them out if they’re crispy enough for you – I always like mine as crunchy as possible) and put a tray in the top for your Yorkshire pudding. Put a few tablespoons of oil in the bottom of another roasting tin and leave it for at least five minutes in the hot oven.
11. Switch your vegetables on to cook.
12. Once the oil in your pan is sizzling pour the batter in and close the oven door. The Yorkshire pudding will take around 15 minutes to cook – don’t be tempted to open the oven door to see how it’s doing until near the end of that time or the blast of cool air will see it sink. Sad times. You want it puffed up and fluffy-looking so you can cut off nice slices of it to go with the dinner (for me, mini ones made in muffin tins just aren’t as fun).
13. Meanwhile, turn your attention to carving the chicken.
14. Then, take out your potatoes / Yorkshire pudding / veg. Use some of the lemony/oniony/carroty meat juice from the bottom of the pan you cooked your chicken in and make a simple gravy. I’m quite lazy so I use the meat juices (having squeezed the lemon quarters to make sure it’s got real tang to it), some of the water drained from the vegetables and add some extra gravy granules to thicken it.
15. Dish up and enjoy. Get someone else to do the washing up.