Last weekend, I felt like a big dish, a proper homey warm fuzzy feeling dish. Soulfood, I guess. Roast chicken for me isn’t an obvious choice to turn too, since it was never in regular rotation in my mum’s repertoire. Not that anything was ever in regular rotation, anyway. My mum (and with her the whole family) used to go through food phases, cooking a certain dish up to every other day, always varying it slightly (“I used lime instead of lemon!”). Weeks of seafood risotto were followed by months of lightly steamed fish fillets on lightly steamed vegetables, interspersed with the odd seafood risotto, and after a brief interlude of pork medaillons and potato mash* resolutely, with only a quick dip into seafood risotto territory, marched on to the next phase, usually with some bolognese pasta in the wee days in between phases. No wonder I will live happily off chestnuts and goat’s milk yogurt for three months, switch to smoked fish and feta cheese on warm days and continue with a couple weeks of groundnut porridge and vegetable soup.
Anyhoo, I digress. Soul food. Roast chicken. Yes. So I decided to create my own soulfood family dish. Roast chicken seemed a good idea at the time, less so when it came to washing the chicken inside(!!) and out and the boyfriend and father disappeared to go rake leaves or whatever instead. Great. Clearly I still have to work on soulfood independence** but anyway, I decided to go ahead and heroically and independently prepare everything else.
1 organic chicken, ready for roasting / 1 1/2 organic lemons / 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled / 10cm piece of chorizo, sliced / handful sage / couple of rosemary twigs / 10 small tomatoes / 5 tblsp sweet paprika powder / salt / oil
Wash the chicken inside and out or find someone to do it for you. Salt and paprika-powder the chicken inside and out. Zest the lemons, cut into quarters. Drizzle the juice of two quarters over the chicken, then stuff it with those two and one unsqueezed quarter lemon, the handful of sage, about a third of the lemon zest and just a few slices of chorizo. Pour some oil into your oven dish, don’t be too stingy, and put the chicken in. Break the garlic cloves apart but don’t peel them, add to the dish, same with the rosemary twigs, the remaining lemon zest, chorizo slices and tomatoes. Poke a knife into each tomato to prevent any explosions (dunno if exploding tomatoes are a thing, but better safe than sorry I’d say, shuddering at the memory of the exploding chestnut that missed my right eye by an inch). Into the oven the chicken goes, lid off, at 190°C for around 75 minutes. Ladle the sauce over it every 20 minutes and you will be rewarded by a chicken to launch a thousand ships.
* On an unrelated note, up to the ripe old age of 22 or so I had no idea that mashed potatoes was something you could make at home, with fresh potatoes. I thought it must be like shelling peas – theoretically possible, but everyone just buys the little cartons.
** Don’t you think “Soulfood Independance” would make an excellent trademark? I’m a lawyer, I’ll make you pay royalties.