The term roast chicken traditionally referred to a whole chicken, spit roasted over an open fire. Back then, in the olden days, the chicken was roasted with its own juices with very minimal marinade being used.
However, now days the chicken is baked in the oven and hardly ever cooked over an open flame so technically it’s a baked and not roasted chicken. But, we still call it roast chicken. It does sound more exotic that way does it not?
Although, there are quite a few manners in which the roast chicken can be prepared (and, I do have quite a few recipes) one of the all time favourites with my family is my recipe for roast chicken that has been marinated in continental herbs and dried Mexican spices. Yeah, I know…the combination sounds weird! But, trust me when I say that the taste is amazing.
I prefer to marinate the chicken in the spices for at least 24 hours. But, it is not mandatory that you do so. I am just a stickler for extracting every possible smidgen of flavour from the chicken. If you do not have a day at your disposal, you can marinate the chicken for two hours. After roasting/baking, the meat is juicy, moist and tender and makes for a great meal with vegetables of choice. In fact, this dish is so simple that it is literally child’s play. And, that is not all. The best part is that it is a one pot dish….so, less cleaning up afterwards.
The Chicken and vegetables
- 1 whole chicken (approx 1 kg), cleaned and with the skin on.
- 2 table spoons of butter, at room temperature.
- 2 medium sized potatoes, cut into wedges
- 1 cup yellow and red peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 2 medium sized onions cut into 1 inch chunks and with the layers peeled apart.
- 2 medium sized carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces (lengthwise)
Pat the chicken dry and very carefully (with the chicken cavity facing you) pry apart the skin from the chicken breasts. Do not cut it or remove it. Just pry it apart so that there is a little space between both. Gently, with your fingers, massage the butter into the chicken breasts and then pat the skin back into place. This ensures that the skin will turn brown and crispy during the roasting.
- 2 table spoons olive oil
- Salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper powder
- ½ teaspoon fresh crushed pepper
- 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried parsley or fresh parsley leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon clove powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2-3 pinches of cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- Juice of one lime + zest of the lime
For basting – 2-3 tablespoons butter
Note – Combine all the above ingredients together (except the butter) to make a marinade. Divide the mixture into two parts – reserve 3/4 for the chicken and 1/4 for the vegetables. To the mixture reserved for the chicken add 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste (I prefer to use the paste and not the dried powder because the paste adds moistness to the meat).
- Preheat the oven to 200 degree C.
- Score the chicken with some shallow cuts on the breast so that the marinade can work itself into the flesh.
- Massage the chicken with the marinade (do not forget to add the ginger and garlic paste) and apply some within the cavity also. Set aside for at least 2 hours to marinate. I prefer to marinate the chicken for 24 hours.
- Prepare the vegetables at the end of 2 hours and after the chicken has marinated. In a bowl mix the remaining marinade and the vegetables. Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.
- Arrange some vegetables at the bottom of the roasting dish and place the chicken on top. Slather some butter on top of the chicken. Add the remaining vegetables to the sides. You will need a deep dish for this. Remember – the potato wedges need to be even sized and also not very thick otherwise they will not cook all through. Note – a way to avoid uncooked potatoes in to parboil the whole potatoes in some water. Then you can cut them into wedges, marinate and add them to the baking dish.
- Place the dish in the pre heated oven and bake at 200 degrees C for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Midway, baste the chicken with the remaining butter and turn the vegetables with a tong. If you observe that the chicken is browning too fast or if the skin is burning, you can tent the meat with an aluminum foil cover. In a microwave oven the chicken could take as long as 1 hour and 45 minutes to cook.
- Test the preparedness of the meat by inserting the tip of a knife into the densest/thickest part of the chicken. If it slides right in, then the chicken is cooked.
- Once done, let the chicken remain in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Then, take it out and place on a serving dish. However, before placing on the serving dish check the chicken again by cutting a piece of the thigh. If the inside is pinkish then the chicken is uncooked and needs to be placed back in the oven for a further 15 minutes or so. If the chicken is cooked then it can be served.
- Serve hot with some stir fried vegetables and crispy chunks of sour dough bread.