Tonight’s Dinner

So here is a wonderful recipe that was scoffed for tonight’s dinner. Roast Chicken with Lemon & Thyme served with Creamy Parmesan Polenta & Roasted Italian Vegetables.

Like many of my recipes I’m inspired by a wonderful American cook that I have followed for many years, Ina Garten also known as the Barefoot Contessa. Her recipes are my go to and the family always love them! However they are often tweaked not because they aren’t already amazing but because I enjoy experimenting adding a little less or little more of something or switching ingredients because I just don’t have them at home and with little time on my hands and not wanting to make another trip to the supermarket I have discovered my own way.  I do my best to use up what we have but I must confess my biggest challenge with my cooking is food wastage, I can’t bare it! I have such a hectic life with my nurses training and running Olivia around to after school activities while entertaining an enthusiastic three year old (Toby) that cooking from scratch is not always an option. Over the years I have discovered ways to make tasty dinners that don’t take hours to prepare and can use up what I have at home.

I spent the day at home today studying so I managed to start early on this one and as I had a whole chicken to use I decided why not roast it even on a Wednesday and gave it a twist with a side of creamy Parmesan polenta and roasted veggies, I used what I had in the veg draw. Dinner inspiration often comes from what I have kicking about in the cupboards I rarely plan a week of meals but always have the go to ingredients for family favourites that I know can be kept and thrown together.

Roast chicken is a firm Sunday dinner favourite but It took a few attempts to find the right way to cook it. I have gone through many chickens trying to discover the best way. I find keeping it simple with little fuss but maximum flavour gives the best results. Firstly where possible buy the best chicken you can. I have a wonderful local butchers the next village over who are always incredibly helpful and from what I’m told the meat tastes fab too. I have a confession, I’m not a meat eater! I cook it most days for the family but have spent the best part of my life living without it in my diet. James guides me when it comes to the final verdict and the brutal honesty from the whole brood always helps! Anyway this was a huge hit this evening and I hope you will all have ago when you have chance.

Roast Chicken with Lemon & Thyme

serves 4-6

 1 (4lb) Whole Chicken

1 Lemon, quatered

8 sprigs of Thyme

1 Yellow Onion halved and slice 1/4 inch thick

Good Olive Oil

Fresh ground black pepper

Sea Salt 

Preheat Oven 220 C  (425 F)

Place two quarters of the lemon, 2 sprigs of thyme (pulled apart to cover base of pan under the chicken) and onion onto base of roasting tin. Take the chicken and place on top of prepared base. Pat chicken dry with kitchen role to take away moisture allowing the skin to roast. Pop the left over lemon and thyme into cavity of chicken. Brush olive oil over chicken making sure it had an even covering. (I use my hands for this) Sprinkle well with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour 15 minutes until the juices run clear (check this between the thigh and the leg) Cover the roasting tin with foil and rest chicken for at least 15 minutes before serving.

I rested my chicken for 50 minutes and it was still piping hot when we dished up.

Roasted Italian Vegetables

Serves 4-6

1 Red Pepper

1 Yellow Pepper

1 Green Pepper

1 Red Onion

3 Celery sticks

2 Courgettes

2 large carrots

4 Cloves of Garlic (minced)

1 1/2 teaspoons of dried Oregano

Ground Black Pepper

Sea Salt

Good Olive Oil (1/2 a cup)

15 Sweet Cherry Tomatoes 

10 Basil leaves (sliced thinly)

Preheat oven 230 C (450 F)

Place all chopped vegetable (1 inch diced) onto baking tray with garlic, oregano, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper. Toss all ingredients together until evenly coated. If there is too much on one pan use two so they do not steam but roast. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes After 15 minutes add the tomatoes to the vegetables and leave to roast for the remaining time. Check after 25 minutes as all ovens may vary and cook quicker.

Once roasted take out and set to one side.

Creamy Parmasan Polenta

All Ina!! Serves 4-6

6 Cups of Chicken Stock ( I used Vegetable)

3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)

1 1/2 Cups of Polenta

Sea Salt

Ground Black Pepper

1 1/2 Cups of freshly grated Parmasan ( Waitrose do a great vegetarian hard cheese that tastes similar)

6 tablesppons of Creme Fraiche ( I used half fat)

Combine garlic and stock in large pan and bring to the boil. Add the polenta whisking as you do making sure there are no lumps. Switch to a wooden spoon and add 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper and simmer polenta over a medium heat until thickened (make sure you are scraping bottom of the pan as you are stirring as you do not want it to catch). Depending on what polenta your have bought depends on the time needed. Once thickened take off the heat and ass the Parmasan crime fraiche and stir until combined. Taste and check seasoning. For more indulgence add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter to polenta ( I left out and it tasted wonderful just as it was). Serve immediately in a large brown.

Take roasted veggies and place on the top of the polenta. Sprinkle basil over the vegetables.

Now serve and enjoy!!

Much Love

George xx