Today I just feel like languishing in my flat. Listen to some Buena Vista Social Club. Swap childhood stories with my flatmate. Absorb myself in the deliciousness of inertia. Eeyore-like.
Delightful glimpses of spring peek through the clouds during the day now, buoyed by a crisp breeze billowing through my clothes in the morning. The trees have blossomed into blushing brides crowned with wispy otherworldly white and pink blossoms. Then the night descends as the sun is banished to the other side of the earth and it strikes you, that perhaps, just perhaps Mother Nature is not quite ready to release winter from her grips yet. But she will eventually let her tiresome pet go free and for a brief few weeks we will have the most glorious summer as the sun rules supreme. I live in hope.
In honour of the still biting nights, a roast of all sorts.
A Roast Medley
A. The Vegetables
Red peppers (capsicum)
Rosemary and thyme
Salt and pepper
1. Get the roast vegetables started first as they will take longer than the chicken and potatoes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
2. Slice the courgettes and parsnips to about 3cm long, chunky sticks.
3. Cut the peppers into thick slices lengthwise and then again into chunky squares. I like using red peppers as I feel they are the sweetest and I might have read somewhere that they contain the highest amount of vitamins but feel free to add in more colour with yellow and orange peppers as well.
4. Slice the red onions into wedges.
5. Now comes the fun part. Place all the vegetables onto a baking tray (I line mine with foil to make washing up easier!). Mix them up with some oil, rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper.
6. Place the tray on the topmost shelf of the oven while you get your potatoes and chicken ready. Roast until the onions become soft and caramelised at the edges.
B. The Chicken
One lemon, halved lengthwise and juice half of the lemon. Slice both lemon halves into half-moons
Sliced garlic cloves, as many as you like
Rosemary and thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1. All this recipe needs is a little time in assembly. What you need to do first is get rid of the fatty sections on two of the longer sides of the thighs, and a tiny pocket of fat on the underside of the thighs which will need a little digging motion. Don’t worry there will be more than enough fat left to flavour the juices that will ooze out later.
2. Insert one lemon slice, a few slices of garlic, a sprig of rosemary and thyme each in the space between the thigh skin and the flesh.
3. Season both top and bottom of the thighs with pepper liberally and some salt. Dot the skin with pinches of butter. This will help the skin brown and crisp nicely.
4. Carry on until all the thighs are gussied up in this fashion.
5. Lay out the remaining lemon slices, garlic cloves, some rosemary and thyme sprigs on to a baking tray and place the thighs on top of that. Pour the lemon juice over the thighs.
6. Move the vegetable tray to the bottom shelf and place the chicken on the top shelf of the oven.
7. Roast the chicken for about 45 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Keep basting the chicken with the cooking juices to keep them moist and juicy and oh so flavourful.
8. Once they’re done, remove them from the tray. This is where I cheat a little with the gravy. Pour the cooking juices into a pan, add in some gravy granules and let it simmer as it thickens for a few minutes.
C. The Potatoes
I used a combination of smaller potatoes for these as I like a higher skin/flesh ratio. Any of the smaller varieties like new potatoes, Jersey, or Charlotte will do.
All you need to do is cut them up into chunks about the same size as the vegetables and mix them up with the same mixture of oil, salt and pepper, rosemary and thyme used for the vegetables.
I like to roast them separately from the vegetables so they don’t get soggy.
Place them into the middle shelf of the oven and roast until they go golden and crisp.
Kick back and enjoy the chicken and piquant gravy, bite into the crisp potatoes which give in to soft flouriness, munch your way through the sweet caramelised vegetables and raise an eyebrow to the cold night with a mocking ‘Is that all you’ve got?’