Chicken Roasted in Salt Water and The Extras

Archie’s been on a two week break from uni.  I’m not sure what he’s done with his time but he hasn’t been home much at all.  I did drop a few loud hints that it would be nice if he tidied his room and ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if someone cleaned my car’, but subtleties are lost on Archie and attending to chores was clearly low down on his list of priorities.

My sister over in the US emailed me needing a favour.  She has a storage unit in Sydney that she had to vacate and needed her things moved to another storage unit close by.  Who did I know that could help her.  Now when Archie was in New York my sister did a great job of looking out for him and entertained him on many occasions.  And who could forget the party Archie threw in her apartment while she was away for the weekend!  So Archie certainly owed my sister more than a few favours so I told my sister that all was sorted, help was on its way.

Chicken Roasted in Salt Water

‘Great’, she said, ‘And tell him it’s just a few things; just a few boxes’.  She also asked me how much she should pay Archie and I said, ‘Don’t worry, Archie will do it for free’.

‘Thanks mum’, said Archie.

A few days ago Archie went out to the storage unit and I didn’t hear from him until 7pm.   ‘Mum, I haven’t finished.  I’m still going.  And I’ve had to ask Webb to come in and help me.  We’ve both been at it; all day’.

‘Good’, I thought.  Webb was also over in New York and benefited from my sister’s hospitality so fabulous that he was paying back the favour.  ‘I thought it was just a few things, Archie, just a few boxes’.

‘Mum, you’ve no idea.  There’s stuff everywhere.  She’s obviously forgotten all the stuff she’s got.  We can’t get the job finished, we’re going to have to come back, I don’t know, tomorrow or something’.

‘Okay Archie, I’ll let her know.’

‘And mum, I’m bringing Webb home with me.  He’s going to stay the night too if that’s okay.  It’s just we’ll have to head back in here tomorrow so I told him he could stay with us.  That’s okay isn’t it, mum?’

I was groaning on the inside but managed, ‘Oh, fine, yeah that’s fine, not a problem’.

‘Great, thanks mum.  What’s for dinner?’

‘Haven’t you had dinner?’

‘Mum, we’ve been moving boxes.  We’re starving.  It’s okay if Webb has dinner with us, isn’t it?’

‘Well Archie, dinner is in the oven and…’

‘What are we having?’

‘It will be the loaves and the fishes, Archie, I can tell you that much.  I have four chicken breasts for six people.’


‘You sound disappointed’.

‘Well, is there anything else to go with it?’

‘There will be some other things but if you want your mates to come for dinner you need to let me know before I’m taking the food to the table’.

‘Oh yeah right.  Sorry mum.  We’ll we’re on our way, we should be there soon.  Chicken sounds great mum.’

Chicken roasted with salt water with lemon and garlic beans

I padded out the meal and managed to make the chicken breasts look fairly substantial and fortunately there were a few dessert items on offer so I don’t think anyone starved.

Next time I’ll cook the whole bird and not just the breasts; you never know how many might be turning up.

Lemon and Garlic Beans

Chicken Roasted in Sea Water

Serves:  4-6

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5 – because of all that basting you have to do while trying not to burn yourself!

Cost:  I think roast chicken is a delightful and very affordable roast dinner

  • 150g pork and fennel sausages, skins removed, coarsely broken
  • 80g mild pancetta, finely chopped
  • 50g chicken livers (about 2), trimmed, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 chicken, about 1.8kg

Lemon and Garlic Beans

  • 400g green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2

Pre-heat oven to 180C.

Combine sausage, pancetta, liver, rosemary, olive oil and garlic in a large bowl and season to taste.

Rinse chicken under cold running water and pat dry with absorbent paper.  Stuff chicken with sausage mixture, truss legs, drizzle with a little oil, season to taste with freshly grund black pepper and place in a roasting pan.  Roast, basting occasionally with salt water until chicken is golden and juices run clear when thigh is pierced with a skewer (about 1 1/4 hours).  Set aside to rest 10 mins

Meanwhile, for lemon and garlic beans, blanch beans in boiling salted water until bright green (30 seconds).  Refresh in iced water, drain well and set aside.  Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, stir occasionally until just tender (30 seconds), add beans and toss until warmed through (2-3 minutes).  Add lemon zest and juice, season to taste and serve hot with chicken.

Note:  If your property doesn’t back on to an ocean, you can make your own salt water by adding 1 tbspn sea salt to 200ml water and stir until dissolved.

This recipe is from Gourmet Traveller, Italian Regional Classics Cookbook.

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  1. I used to do that to my Mom all the time it used to drive her insane! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  2. lol my property does back up to the ocean but I’m not sure I want to cook my chicken in it 🙂

    I’m okay with drop-ins for dinner as long as they are understanding that not everyone will be eating the same thing.

  3. Eat.Play.Shop. says:

    Haha, bless the unexpected visitors for dinner! Those beans look fantastic and healthy!

  4. Joanne (eats well with others) says:

    Now I finally understand why my parents always cook for 10 even though there’s only five of us…you never know who will show up for dinner!

  5. Love the line about 4 chicken breasts for 6 people … plus I love oven-roasted chicken, especially with maple syrup with pepper.

  6. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    You always amaze me how calmly you handle unexpected situations.

  7. Funny about the boxes, did she just forget, I wonder, or play it down? It was very good of Archie to do it without whining, of course we can’t know for sure, just because you didn’t write about it ;-)!
    The chicken looks delicious, I adore an oven roasted chicken, it means that I don’t have to think about lunches for a few days at our house (only two mouths to feed!). Did you know that Heston Blumenthal recommends not to truss a chicken? He says that the parts that are pulled in tightly are cannot cook at the same rate as the parts that are loose (like the breasts). Anyway, here is an interesting link. I haven’t tried it yet, but will at some point.
    Just as an FYI, I tried many times to leave a comment on yesterday’s post with my iPhone but the CAPTCHA never allowed me to enter it. I was very careful to check that I entered it correctly, but it kept changing the words.

  8. This just sounds and looks like the perfect comfort food. Love the ingredients in this roasted chicken; the stuffing with the sausage brings a nice flavor. I need my son to wash my car today, fingers crossed he’ll get it done!!

  9. Hi Charlie! I felt sorry for your son, it sounds like a big job that he and his friend had to do. I’m always affraid of sudden visitors, thank God here in Canada we dont know anyone 😛
    I just looooove this recipe, never tried something like this before basting with salted water, I am so making it!

  10. Jed Gray (sportsglutton) says:

    I’m thinking that it was just fine that Archie had to work longer moving boxes, etc for your sister. 😉

  11. Haha, I just went back and read the story about Archie and your sister’s apartment. Oh boy, you’re a most patient mother! I don’t think I would be able to do it, hehe 🙂 I’m glad he repayed your sis by helping her move though.

    I have a problem making small amounts for dinner…I only know how to cook for an army, which works out well when unexpected visitors drop by. This looks delicious!

  12. HHAHAA Archie definitely needs to do it for free after what he did to his poor aunties apartment and she had a toddler too 🙁 Has Archie manage to clear out the whole storage? 🙂

    I hate it when people come up unannounced sigh I alway panic that here’s not enough food >_<

  13. rein artbud

  14. No pictures of the contents of the storage unit from Archie to show you how hard he had to work? I love watching an American reality show about auctions of forfeited units and the goodies or trash found inside so I’m curious. 🙂

    Fascinating dish title though I don’t know where I’d get sea water to baste the chicken in so than you for the substitution info. 🙂

  15. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Oh yum, that chicken sounds great with the sausage, etc. What fabulous flavor it must have.

  16. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    Typical boys. Late on chores and extra mouths to feed. I understand this well! Love the look of the chicken. This is a completely new technique for me!

  17. Good on Archie for getting it done! You’re clever to have managed to stretch the meal out to six, Charlie! What did you add? 🙂

  18. kitchenriffs says:

    I’ve had too many of those “loaves and fishes” dinners in my life. They usually turn out well; except, of course, for when they don’t! I haven’t roasted a chicken in ages, and have been thinking about it for the last couple of months (sometimes I’m slow). I often do mine high heat, and can get it done in under an hour, no basting required (really!). You’ve got me in the mood for chicken .. . 😉

  19. I can imagine a food fight breaking out my friend, considering how awesome this chicken looks! I guess it is always a surprise as to how many will show up 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  20. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    I’ve had many a conversation like that with my son! Chicken looks lovely…

  21. Claire @ Claire K Creations says:

    I thought that story was going to end in… they some how got the wrong storage box and moved someone else’s stuff!
    Roast chicken and beans (and potato bake) was what I requested for dinner the night before my wedding. Yum!

  22. I wonder what time Archie and Webb actually started though? I know it takes my daughter AGES to get started on a job, as she has to get snacks/ music/ into the right head space to tackle it, which can take at least a couple of hours before she even starts 🙂 I also had a sneaky laugh imagining the boys moving mountains of stuff from the WRONG lock up, as your sister said there were only a few boxes on hers 🙂 If so Charlie, it would probably take one of these gorgeous chicken dinners each for the boys to get over it!

  23. yummychunklet says:

    Love it. I actually saw an episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations where a cook from Spain used sea water to season a stew’s broth!

  24. I just finished reading about Archie in the West Village. It is good to hear that he is returning the favour.
    I like the sound of the stuffing, sausages and chicken livers, decadent.

  25. SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) says:

    Bless their hearts! Sounds like Archie and his mate deserved the yummy dinner that you served them. And those green beans… they look amazing. I think I would have skipped the chicken and just eaten the beans!

  26. Juliet Batten says:

    Great that Archie and his friend were willing to work so hard returning the favours. I can imagine how hungry they would have been!

  27. I hope they managed in the end to move all your sister’s stuff. Having teenager of my own, I know how much they can eat. 🙂

  28. I just read the party post and let me tell you, I am not looking at all forward to the teenage years… for either of my kids…

  29. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Oh my worst, I hate not having enough food – I find it very stressful. Kudos on stretching the 4 chicken breasts so far.
    🙂 Mandy

  30. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Awww poor Archie! I’m impressed that he went and did it though and even brought along a friend! Although last minute guests that are hungry, growing boys is not ideal…

  31. But if you do cook the whole bird, I am quite sure all 3 of your children will suddenly be elsewhere that night 😛

  32. Fascinating. I’ve brined a turkey before roasting it but never basted it in salt water. Great idea.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Tammy, I’d never basted anything in salt water before either. I was really pleased with the results. It’s definitely worth a try and it didn’t taste too salty (which is what I was worried about), either.

  33. i love roasting chicken too because it’s easy and yep affordable!!! 🙂 I haven’t tried basting it with salt water but I bet it made the chicken moist and mmm good. My son was home for 6 weeks but he was home most of the time. He didn’t know anyone because we moved to a new city…

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’d never basted anything with salt water before either, Malou, but I was really pleased with the results. The chicken was very moist and the skin was a beautiful golden colour. If you try it, do let me know what you think.

  34. What a lovely roast chicken. I’ve gotten a little lazy recently and I’ve been stopping on the way home from work picking up an already roasted chicken. But I’m often disappointed, since I think the chickens have been a little “fatty” and I would prefer to get them from one of my better market sources. You’ve inspired me to get to the market and roast one myself…but maybe when it cools down a bit! We’re having quite a heat wave…fall is coming! oxo

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I have a sister living in LA and she’s been telling me how hot it is. You certainly are having a long and extended summer.

  35. This sounds like a great method of preparing chicken, Charlie. I need to try this. Your story reminds me of my own Mom. My friends in high school would marvel that we always had some pasta for dinner at my house. They didn’t realize that Mom’s immediate reaction to having unexpected guests for dinner was to thaw a quart of tomato sauce and start boiling water for pasta. 🙂

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