Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Last meal on Earth - Quick & Easy Scrumptious Pan-Roast Chicken

Quick & Easy Scrumptious Pan-Roast Chicken
Chicken laid onto the chopped vegetables
Well seasoned and ready for the oven
A thing of beauty.....yum!

I was asked not so long ago, what will my last meal on earth be? Well, a roast chicken of course, I replied, almost without any hesitation. Who doesn't enjoy it? It's one of those dishes that everyone knows and savours at some point in their life. Unless you are a vegetarian, in which case, I think you are missing out. No offence, but when cooked right, it is truly the king of all roasts. Certain element has to be abide by in order to achieved the most scrumptious, succulent and juicy chicken ever!

The bird, free range of course is essential. I will also look for a corn-fed ones too. That is a personal preference, but I do find them tonnes more flavoursome than ordinary battery-farmed variety. When I was growing up, I briefly lived in a Malaysia Kampong, a typical local village, where chicken are roaming free everywhere. Every morning, you be awaken by the crowing, wings-flapping and sometimes if you are lucky enough, by the pecking on you semi-conscious body. Those are these tiny delicious feathered creatures that are quite unlike these plump, pale and bland corpses you find in your local supermarket.

The timing, the skin needs to be crispy and the meat need to be cooked but not overdone. Nothing worse than ruining a perfect supper by offering a dry, chewy object. Unless , of course if you are planning to choke you dinner guests to death. In which case, may I advice to just chuck the dehydrated body over the dining table, they won't survive the impact and it's much quicker and less painless that way. 

Flavour! Flavour! Now that you've got a good quality chicken, seasoned it well before you roast it for heaven sake. Judging from my tone, you can possibly tell that I have had many unfortunate experiences of having to endure countless insipid birds. Mostly in some pretentious gastropub where the gravy offered served as garnish rather than sauce. Yes, they were dripped onto plates, possibly with a syringe. Not to be out done by these fancy joint, there were also these pub chains where gravy is a-plenty, but they were so watery and flat that I could find more taste in the glass of water on the side. 

Roast whole chicken is something that I reserved for the weekend when I will have more time to give it some tender-loving-care. So on a normal hectic day when I craved for a comforting roast, this is what I usually make. Last night was a fine example, coming home from work and feeling absolutely exhausted after succumbing to two weeks of nightshift and still on the recovery mode, I've decided to prepare this quick and easy pan-roast chicken. It's speedy because all I need to do is chop up some vegetable into rough chunks, toss with some seasoning and pop into the pan. Lay the chicken legs on top of these. Sprinkle on any fresh or dried herbs and season with some paprika, cayenne pepper, sea salt and pepper and a lug of olive oil. The pan then goes into the oven and the whole meal are ready in 45 minutes......so simple for such a delicious dish. 

If this was to be served to me on my dying bed, I will die a happy man.



(Serves 4)

Ingredients

4 large free-range cornfed chicken leg
2 medium onions, cut into quarters
2 medium courgettes, cut into rough chunks
1 large aubergine, cut into rough chunks
4 medium plump tomatoes, cut into quarters or 4 small tomatoes, halves
4 large potatoes, about 150g each, cut into large chunks
2 garlic cloves, crushed
olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp of paprika
a small pinch of cayenne pepper 
1 tbsp dried thyme and oregano, or any other dried herbs that you fancy
1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a small handful of peashoots, watercress or baby spinach, for garnish

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place all the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the garlic and and drizzle some olive oil. Toss thoroughly with your hands until well coated and pour into a large oven proofed frying pan or roasting dish. Lay the chicken on top and sprinkle the paprika, cayenne and dried herbs. Cut the lemon in half and squeezed the juices all over the chicken and then add them to the pan for extra flavour when roasting. Drizzle with more olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Check to see if the chicken is cooked by cutting into the thickest part of the thigh and the juices should runs clear.

Transfer onto individual warm plates, spoon over some juices from the pan and serve garnished with some salad leaves.

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