Back when I was 18 and a student at York University, halls of residence were pretty basic. In fact our “kitchen” consisted of a partitioned off bit of corridor with a sink, fridge and baby belling shared between 5 people.
Coming from a family of cooks and chefs I quickly fell into the role of chief-feeder as most of the boys were incapable even of boiling an egg successfully. As is the norm for most freshers, everybody would be in a pretty poor state by Sunday lunch after the weekend social events and it soon became a food orientated de-briefing session on our floor.
In about my 3rd or 4th week I got a seriously good deal on a couple of whole chickens, student budgets being what they are, and decided I’d do a traditional Sunday lunch. Just one small problem, ever tried to roast a chicken in a baby belling? Or, for that matter, two chickens? Funnily enough, they didn’t fit and I was going to have to find another way around the problem…
So, after all this preamble, I ended up cooking the following dish and have continued to do so on a regular basis ever since with one or two alterations. Cooking the chicken in stock gives a great succulent flavour to the meat whilst adding the vegetables to the same pan saves on the washing up!
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic whole and crushed
- 6 mushrooms quartered
- 3 carrots peeled and sliced into finger sized pieces
- 1 leek sliced in half length wise and chopped into 2” lengths
- 5 pepper corns
- 2 vegetable or chicken stock cubes
- 2 litres boiling water
- 2 chillies (optional)
- ½ shredded savoy cabbage
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- Boiled rice to serve
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pan large enough to hold the chicken.
- Add the onion, garlic, carrots, leeks, mushrooms and pepper corns to the pan and cook on a moderate heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Place the chicken in the pan, breast up, add the stock cubes and boiling water and cover with a lid. If chillies are your thing then pop them in whole now.
- Leave the pan on good simmer for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.
- Turn the heat off and use the handle of a wooden spoon to remove the chicken from the stock by hooking it into the cavity.
- Transfer the chicken into a shallow roasting tray, oil the breast with the rest of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the tray into a preheated oven at 240 degrees until the skin on the beast crisps and goes brown (about 15 minutes).
- Meanwhile strain the vegetables and peppercorns out of the stock, cover with foil and place in the bottom of the oven to keep warm.
- Skim the fat of the top of the stock with a spoon and reserve.
- Finally bring the stock back to the boil about 5 minutes before the chicken is ready and add the shredded cabbage to lightly cook.
- To serve spoon the cooked rice into the bottom of a bowl, add the warm vegetables, cabbage, a ladle full of stock and top with a couple of slices of chicken.
Hey presto, a lovely warming winter supper with minimal washing up!