Posts Tagged ‘lemon’

Our friend Irv in Washington D.C. put me onto this wonderfully care-free way to roast a chicken developed by America’s Test Kitchen TV programme.

It’s simple and hands-off (well, the chicken needs a hand getting into the oven but that’s about it!).


1 average chicken–washed and dried

olive oil

sprigs of rosemary and thyme (if they are at hand or just one of them)

2 or 3 garlic cloves–unpeeled

1/2 (half) a lemon

salt and pepper

white wine for deglazing (scraping up the good bits!) and making the gravy

  • Choose a pan that will hold the chicken easily.
  • Turn the oven on to 450F/230C (Hot!)
  • Put the empty pan in the oven–yes, empty–no oil, nothing!
  • Dribble olive oil over the bird and using your clean hands or a brush, coat the chicken in olive oil.
  • Season the chicken well with salt and black pepper.


  • Stuff the cavity with the lemon, garlic and herbs.
  • When the oven has reached its target heat, quickly take out the pan wearing oven gloves, pop the chicken on it and put the pan straight back in the oven.
  • Roast the chicken for 30 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat but DON’T open the oven door!
  • Let the bird sit cosily in the oven for a further 30 minutes–it won’t complain.Then take the pan out of the oven and cover the chicken with foil and let it settle/rest for 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and transfer the chicken to a warmed serving platter.


  • Carefully spoon out excess fat in the pan–leaving the good gravy making juices behind.
  • Gingerly upend the chicken and let the remaining juices inside fall back into the cooking pan.
  • Deglaze the pan with the white wine on a lowish heat–stirring as the alcohol evaporates.
  • Pour this gravy into a heated gravy boat or jug.

And there you have it–Irv’s simple carefree way to roast a chicken.
Ready for carving…

IMG_4997_2and eating!


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I was later to the market than usual on Saturday and my favorite chicken stall had sold out of medium sized birds. There remained very large ones to feed a family or these neat little numbers she called coquelets. 

coquelet is a small chicken, aka a poussin–(though I read that an American poussin is larger*).

The one I bought on Saturday morning weighed two pounds, perfect for the recipe I remembered in Diana Henry’s lovely and unusual book Crazy Water and Pickled Lemons.

A simple marinade and a quick roast made this an agreeable and easy supper for the two of us–a treat in fact, with the oranges and lemon/lime twist in the marinade.

for 2

*1 small chickencoquelet-poussin–(if you can’t find a small chicken, a larger one could be spatchcocked to cut the cooking time)

2 oranges–quartered and then each quarter, halved

1 sweet potato--sliced in rounds (optional)

the marinade:

juice of 2 oranges + the rind of one**

juice of a lemon or lime + the rind

2 tblsps balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves–peeled and crushed

2 tblsps olive oil

2 tblsps dried oregano

a few thyme sprigs

salt and pepper

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl.

Put in the chicken, breast side down and let it rest in the mixture, for 3 or 4 hours in our case–overnight if you can.

set the oven to 180C/350F

  • Put the chicken in a roasting tin surrounded snugly by the orange pieces and sweet potato slices (if using).
  • Pour a little of the marinade over the chicken.
  • Roast in the oven for an hour or more–depending on the size of the chicken.
  • Baste with the marinade two or three times.
  • Let the chicken rest a little, keeping it warm under a sheet of foil.
  • Halve the bird from front to back, along the breast bone and the back bone–best done with kitchen sheers.
  • Remove the orange slices and the sweet potato slices to a warm dish.
  • Deglaze the pan with a couple of tablespoons of water, scraping off the sticky bits to dissolve them in the liquid.
  • Heat the gravy through gently, while stirring.
  • Pour over the plated half-a-chicken and sweet potatoes.

**(Meredith wasn’t sure what the rind is and how it differs from the pith.  Same thing but the first is solid and obtained by carefully running a knife under the skin/rind, lifting it from the orange with as little of the white as you can. The second (pith) is scraped from the orange with a scraper/pither or a  call- it- what-you-willer!)

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This is quickly done and delicious–but the mackerel really does need to be fresh.

The incomparable Nigel Slater does a thyme dressing for the tomato salad (see below) and it is the clincher for this combination.

Back in May I bought a couple of  “green” tomato plants at the market in Lautrec.

The young woman assured me they would produce beautiful sweet green tomatoes.

Really?– seems a contradiction in terms.”

“You’ll see!”.

She was right. I’ve been eating my words and the green tomatoes for a couple of weeks now!

I thanked her today at the market after buying the mackerel from the fishmonger.

She said she was pleased I liked them.

“People are reluctant to buy them–obviously not ready–not ripe, they say”.

Worth a try I say–with the zeal of the newly converted!

for 2

2 very fresh mackerel–in fillets

salt and pepper

olive oil

tomatoes for the salad–cut up or sliced as you like (of course you can use RED!)

for the dressing:

1 garlic clove–peeled and pulped with a good pinch of salt

1 tablespoon thyme leaves–chopped


4 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

making the dressing:

Pound the thyme leaves with the garlic clove and salt.

Add some pepper.

Mix in the lemon juice,

then the olive oil.

Cooking the mackerel

  • Heat the grill to hot.
  • Brush the fillets with olive oil and season them well.
  • Lay some foil over the grill pan–brush with oil.
  • Place the fillets, skin side up, on the foil.
  • Place under the grill.
  • The skin will start to scorch and bubble–which adds to the flavour.

(Careful not to overdo it though.)

Dress the tomato salad, add the cooked fillets and drizzle the fish with a little more of the dressing.

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