At this time of year when the seasons change it’s really worth loading up on nutrients so that your immune system is at its strongest and able to fight off seasonal coughs and colds. A simple roast chicken with a pile of organic cruciferous vegetables is a brilliant way to do this.
This recipe is adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s 2013 cookbook It’s All Good, and she ‘borrowed’ it from French chef Joël Robuchon. We’re yet to find anyone who doesn’t like it. We do know someone who cooks two on Sundays when friends are over – one without garlic for the kids and one with for the adults. Feel free to change up as you wish.
1 organic chicken – remove giblets!
Half a head of garlic, more if you can handle it!
1 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Less is more when it comes to butter.
A sprinkle of fresh or dried herbs – tarragon is divine, but Gwyneth uses paprika.
1 hefty pinch of Himalayan sea salt and a hefty pinch of ground black pepper.
Your favourite vegetables: we love organic courgette, broccoli and cauliflower – which are all cruciferous and so brilliant for hormone balance – chopped thickly. Carrots or sweet potatoes would add a dash of orange if you’re going for the ‘eat a rainbow’ look.
Salad if you wish – we love a very simple chopped cucumber, tomato, thinly sliced red onion and fresh basil leaves just to fill up the gap in the plate where potatoes or bread would be completely, and to add some fresh crunch to the chicken and cooked veg.
Take the chicken out of the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature for about half an hour before cooking. Pre-heat your oven to a bit higher than the usual temperature you use for roasting. 220° or 440° – depending on which region of the world you live in.
While the oven is warming up, prepare your chicken, you need very clean hands obviously and prepare to get a bit messy! Mix the butter, a couple of thinly sliced cloves of garlic and the tarragon together in a bowl. Next, press down hard on the backbone of the chicken to flatten it, tuck the wings under the bird and then tie the legs together using butcher’s twine. The idea of this is so that if you cook it on its side, it won’t flop over.
Next, rub the butter under the skin of the chicken breast and if you’re careful you can massage it so it’s pretty much under all of the skin on both sides of the chicken’s breast. The idea behind this is that it will be crispy but the meat won’t be dry when you have finished cooking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
You don’t have to turn the chicken regularly but the idea is that if you do, the juices are evenly distributed so you don’t end up with greasy meat on the bottom and dry, burned meat on the top.
Pop the chicken on a baking tray and after dropping the oven temperature down to 200° (or 400°) leave it on its back for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, pop it onto its side and leave to cook for 15 minutes, then onto its back for 30 minutes and then onto its front for 30 minutes and then onto its other side for another 15 minutes.
You should be able to tell if it’s cooked but if you can’t take a knife and carefully cut down between the leg and the breast and if the meat is pink then give it another half an hour on its back. Each time you turn the chicken, gently pour about half a wine glass full of water along the top and, I personally always add an extra sprinkle of tarragon. You might prefer paprika.
Meanwhile, blanch the veg in boiling water for no more than two minutes. Take out. In an ideal world you would then pop them in ice cold water for a few moments so they retain their colour. Which you may as well do. Either way – drain.
Remove the chicken from the oven and place front down on a plate and cover with foil. Leave for twenty or even thirty minutes. Put the veg in the tray you baked the chicken in and roast for 10 minutes – if you prefer crispy then cook for longer. Spice them if you want, a dash of turmeric would work, I just add in a few halved garlic cloves and roast them too.
Meanwhile, quickly chop up the salad and pop in a bowl on the table.
Carve the chicken and pile the plates high with vegetables and salad. I you really wanted you could add roast or mashed potatoes, but without them this is sneaky diet food because if you add enough veg and salad with the chicken, people won’t realise they haven’t had any hardcore carbs or gravy. I tend to prefer to keep carbs to a minimum as much as possible in the evenings.
Save any leftovers for an amazing salad, wrap, sandwich or even gently stir fried to heat through the next day!