Prior to leaving for our overnight stay in the Blue Mountains, I took a leg of lamb out of the freezer and left it on the bench to thaw out for a Sunday night roast on our return. I do try to be organised!
On our way home and after we had visited The Sweetest Thing, I had red aniseed balls rattling around in my mouth and Carl couldn’t stand the noise so was begging me to stop crunching them. He could have joined in but alas, he doesn’t like aniseed. Anyway, I was thinking about that leg of lamb on the bench and how at 2.7kgs (6lbs) it was quite a substantial leg and that it was probably too large for just the five of us. So in between aniseed balls I phoned my parents and asked if they would like to come for dinner at 6pm. They would love to. Excellent. We’d be home by five, I’d have the roast on by 5.15, then have 45 minutes to tidy up, purchase a few things from the local shops so there was something on the table besides lamb, and probably a few minutes leftover to breath.
Then the text messages started coming in from Arabella.
‘I had some people over for drinks last night. Sorry mum’.
‘I was going to clean up but then I was called in to work. Sorry mum’.
‘I did stack the dishwasher but I couldn’t empty it because it hadn’t finished before I had to go to work. Sorry mum’.
‘And Archie didn’t have time to help because he had to go to work too but he brought all the glasses down from his room’.
Hmmm. Not sounding promising.
So it was with reluctance that I put the key into the front door as I was fearful of what I might find but pretty much the damage was contained to only the kitchen so I’d consider that a win.
Surveying the scene, my eyes fell upon the kitchen bin. Uni students believe a bin doesn’t have a finite limit on what it can hold and therefore, a bin never needs to be emptied. You just keep stuffing down the contents until you get that little inch of space you need and then you pile in more refuse. And having created that inch of space you can then move away with a clear conscience that certainly, it was not your turn to empty the bin. It never is a uni student’s turn because they are persistent in their efforts to squash garbage. So I took out the garbage, emptied the recycling, emptied the dishwasher, re-stacked the dishwasher, turned on the oven and wiped down the benches. It was when I was wiping down the benches that I noticed I hadn’t seen that 2.7kg leg of lamb on any of my kitchen benches.
‘Arabella must have put it back in the fridge’, I thought. But it wasn’t in the fridge. No, Arabella had gone one step further and returned it to the freezer. And there it was, solid as a brick. Why couldn’t she have put her hands on the garbage instead of my roast? But that’s the sort of help you get from teenagers; it’s very sub-par.
It was now nearly six o’clock and with nothing to cook I switched off the oven and quickly phoned my parents to say owing to the fact there was no dinner, I was retracting my offer.
But I still needed to cook for the family and I wanted something quick and easy that could readily be sourced from the only store that would still be open at that hour on a Sunday night – the local IGA. I ran there with my trolley and they had one solo chicken left on the shelves. It was mine. I made a roast chicken that cooks quickly because you remove the back bone and flatten it out and I served it with pan juices spooned over it, some quinoa and steamed greens. It’s a great family meal if you’re short on time, money, energy and have had your plans thwarted. And here’s the recipe…
Quick and Easy Herby Roast Chicken
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: I bought a free-range chicken for around $10.00. If you have herbs in your garden it won’t cost you more than that. And this is a great way to use up the leftover herbs you have sitting at the bottom of the fridge.
- 60g softened butter
- large handful chopped herbs (I used sage, parsley, oregano, chives and rosemary but any combination will do).
- tsp dijon mustard
- a garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1 x 1.6kg free-range chicken, washed and dried with paper towel
- 1 tsp olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 180C (375F) fan-forced or 200C (400F) ordinary oven.
In a small bowl combine butter, herbs, mustard, garlic and seasoning. Mix well.
Turn chicken breast-side down. Taking a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut out the backbone and feed to your dogs.
Cover a baking tray with baking paper and place chicken skin-side up on the tray. The chicken should be opened up and lying flat. Very carefully and using clean hands, loosen the skin from the breast on both sides because this is where you’re going to stuff that herby butter. Do the same with the legs, starting with loosing the skin from the cut thigh and carefully move your fingers across the thigh and over to the leg.
For the next step it’s easiest to just use your fingers and yes, this process is messy. Take small handfuls of the herby butter and push it between the skin and the breast then do the same with the thighs and legs. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the skin, just enough to give it a bit of a gloss and you can lightly season the skin as well (depends on how much seasoning you put in the herby butter).
Place on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 minutes. Now there’s nothing to do except prepare some steamed vegetables, potatoes, rice or quinoa.
When chicken is cooked, allow to rest for 5 minutes then separate into portions using tongs. Spoon some of the pan juices over the plated chicken and relax.