Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Pot roasted chicken with apples and cider

Sometimes I get myself into the most ridiculous situations. A few nights ago, the road I usually drive to get home was closed. I still don't know the roads around here very well, and there aren't too many route options to take to get home as we live pretty much in the middle of no-where. So I had carefully looked at the maps and planned my alternative route home. It was past 9pm in the evening, I was exhausted after two classes at the gym. And when I get to the roundabout where the road was closed, and I was going to take my alternative route, that too was blocked. No pre-warning whatsoever. There was only one way I could go at the roundabout which was completely the wrong direction. To make a long story short, about 40 minutes later I made a damsel in distress call to the Culinary Consultant who came and rescued me. We drove back home on some teeny tiny things which were supposed to resemble roads. I was so happy when I finally made it home about an hour and a half after first heading off home from the gym. Goes to show it might be good to have a bit more local knowledge. As a thank you for dragging my poor man off the sofa late on a Friday night, I wanted to cook something extra nice for him.

We eat a lot of chicken at the InvisiblePinkHouse. I dread to think how many chickens have given up their lives for our dinners. The Culinary Consultant really likes his chicken. I don't mind it. I always used to cook only chicken breasts, but then we started experimenting with roasting whole chickens. After doing it a few times, it became routine, and it's a really quick and easy way to prepare a nice Sunday roast dinner and at the same time have plenty of leftovers for the following week. I like to use the chicken for my packed lunch salads. And there are endless options for using up the leftovers. Chicken soup, pie, enchiladas, fajitas, sandwiches... When I saw this recipe for pot roasted chicken in cider on one of my favourite food blogs, The English Kitchen, I knew I wanted to try it. The fact that we still have plenty of apples from our own apple tree stored in our conservatory made it even more appealing. 

I have made some minor adjustments to the original recipe, but please hop over to the English Kitchen to check out the original blog post. Also, the pictures are much better than mine which once again were taken in the dark and turned out really bad. But trust me, no matter how it looks, it tastes amazing and is well worth the prep time!

Pot roasted chicken with apples and cider:
1 tbsp oil
1 medium sized roasting chicken (mine was just over 2 kg)
200 g bacon lardons (original recipe said 175 g but the pack I bought was 200 g so used all of it)
1 large brown onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 small cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 fresh sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped and roughly chopped
250ml apple cider
150ml chicken stock (5 fluid ounces)
4 small apples
25g butter
2 tsp caster sugar
freshly grated nutmeg (I only had dried nutmeg)
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 tsp corn flour
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste  

The howto:
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C. Start by seasoning your chicken outside and inside with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a flame proof casserole or roaster if you have one, or in my case, a big frying pan, and brown the chicken on all sides. Transfer the chicken to the side. In the same casserole or frying pan, cook the bacon lardons until starting to brown. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another few minutes. Add the apple cider and cook until the amount of liquid has reduced by about two thirds. The place the chicken on top of the sauce (or transfer the sauce from the pan to the casserole and the place the chicken on top), cover with aluminium foil and a tightly fitting lid. The original recipe suggested to roast for an hour. I have always trusted the formula on the wrapping for the chicken: Cook 45 minutes for each kilogram plus add 20-30 minutes. For my two kg chicken this meant roasting for two hours. 

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the apples. Peel and cut them into chunks. Cook on medium heat in a frying pan in the butter until apples start to soften a bit. Add the sugar and nutmeg and cook for a few more minutes. Let cool. When the chicken is ready, remove from oven and place on a carving tray, cover with aluminium foil and let rest for about 10 minutes. Pour the contents of the casserole into a saucepan and let cook and reduce for about 10 minutes. Mix the water and corn flour and add to the sauce, let boil for a few minutes to thicken. Taste, and season with black pepper and salt if needed. I found no salt was needed. Add the apples to the sauce. Carve the chicken and serve drenched in the apple sauce.

The verdict:
I chose to cook this recipe as the apple and cider combo sounded delicious, but also because it was a different method to how I usually cook chicken. Although this method doesn't produce nice, crispy skin which the Culinary Consultant loves, the meat was really moist and juicy. And then there is the sauce. The sauce with the bacon lardons and apple chunks is simply amazing. Beyond a doubt one of the finest and most tasty sauces I have ever managed to make in my entire life. The original recipe suggests to thicken your sauce with a butter and flour mixture which I am not very fond of, so I decided to stick with my trusty cornflour. The original recipe also suggests adding cream to the sauce, but I didn't have any at home and didn't want to buy a whole tub just to use a tablespoon or two so I left it out and it still turned out really good.

The recipe is really convenient to cook in one pot most of the way if you have a roaster or casserole which can also handle cooking on the hob. As I have an induction hob in my kitchen and no induction compatible roasters I did the preparation steps in a big frying pan, then transferred everything to the roaster, and again transferred the juices back to a saucepan when it came time to prepare the sauce. A bit more work, but not too bad. And definitely worth the yummy result.
Card of the day:
As you may or may not have noticed, my cards now have a blog of their own. So please, head on over to InvisiblePinkCards to take a look, I think the card blog will be updated a bit more frequently than the food blog, as I have quite a bit of backlog of crafting projects to publish. But don't worry, the food blog will also go on as usual. If you want to be kept up to date with new blog posts on both blogs, you can like the InvisiblePinkFacebookpage.

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