Rustic Roast Chicken, Chunky Crouton and Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad
This is about as rough and ready as you can get but with superb flavours in home cooking, who gives a damn about pretty presentation… sometimes a big heaped platter can be as mouth-watering as elegant plating up.
1 medium chicken
A small bunch of thyme
1 bulb of garlic
400g of cherry tomatoes
1 crusty loaf
6 rashers of smoky bacon
6 spring onions
A bunch of soft herbs (basil, mint, parsley)
1 tablespoon of wholegrain mustard
Chinese 5 spice
Sea salt and black pepper
¨ Take your bird out of the fridge a half hour before you need it to bring it up to room temperature. Place it in an oiled oven tray, cut the string that ties the chicken so it ‘relaxes’; push a sharp knife down the inside of the leg beside the breast, as this is the last place to cook fully. Prick the lemon all over with a knife and stuff it into the cavity along with the thyme, 3 cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with salt and pepper.
¨ Pop the bird in a hot oven. Keep it up max for 15 mins then turn it down to 190°c for 1 hour 10 mins, baste it a few times during that time.
¨ In the meantime Cut all the cherry tomatoes in half and peel the rest of the cloves of garlic from the bulb. When the chicken is 20 mins from the end of cooking time remove it from the oven, lift it out of the tray and scatter in the tomatoes and garlic. Then pop the bird back on top and place back into the oven until cooked (when the juices run clear when pricked with a fork at the meatiest point)
¨ Transfer the chicken to a plate and allow to rest and cool. Tear the crusty loaf into large bite sized pieces into the roasting tray, toss them around in the cooking juices, spread them in an even layer and cut up the bacon and scatter on top. Place back into the oven for around 20 mins until golden and crispy.
¨ Meanwhile remove all the skin from the chicken, use 2 forks to shred all the meat possible from the bone. Pile it into a large bowl and spoon over any or the resting juices from the plate. Drizzle some good olive oil over, a good splash of cider vinegar and the wholegrain mustard and give it a good mix around. Chop up the herb leaves and finely slice the spring onions and add them to the bowl, give everything a light toss again, taste and season further if needed.
¨ Once the croutons are golden and crisp toss everything together and boldly tip onto a large platter in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves. Serve with some steamed greens if you like (broccoli, green beans etc.)