There are some days where any one would be excused for thinking that I moonlight as a professional chauffeur. I spend hours from late afternoon to early evening ferrying girls from one after school activity to another. I am just grateful that my son boards at school during the week and I don’t have to accommodate his extra curricular activities into an already hectic schedule.
It’s a mindless activity, this incessant picking up and dropping off, but incredibly stressful when you are up against the clock and have to navigate the mean streets of inner city Sydney during peak hour. I entertain my passengers with a running commentary on other driver’s faux pas, never my own. I like to think of this as an exercise in educating the girls on the merits of safe driving. After all it won’t be too long before they themselves will want to get behind the wheel. Truth be told I’m dreading the day I have to get into a car with a learner driver.
The last thing I want to do when I finally get home is get in the kitchen and start cooking. I have a whole repertoire of dishes that either just need heating up when I walk in through the door, or better still slow cooking in the oven while I’m out and about. There’s nothing nicer than arriving home, opening the front door and being greeted by a waft of deliciousness. Honey I’m home. Sometimes I think I need a wife.
Here’s a recipe that helps fulfil that fantasy. It takes maybe 15 minutes to prepare, and best of all takes care of itself roasting in a slow oven. The chicken is juicy and succulent with a crispy skin. The potatoes golden and delicious, crunchy on the outside but soft when you bite into them. Don’t be put off by the quantities of garlic, chilli and oil – 10 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of chilli and a cup of oil sounds like a lot but somehow the slow roasting mellows and ameliorates the flavours. If you really have to, use less garlic and chilli. My husband is very vocal about his aversion to garlic but seems to have no problem enjoying this. Maybe he hasn’t noticed.
This is my strategy for getting dinner on the table fast. Prepare the chicken and potatoes, sometimes I do this hours in advance, and keep the oven ready baking dish in the refrigerator, covered with cling film to keep those garlic odours at bay. Then all I have to do is place the baking dish in the oven as I leave home.
The chicken and potatoes roast away and after about an hour and fifteen minutes, I walk in the door and am greeted by dinner. Ready to be taken out of the oven, plated and served with a green salad. How easy is that?
Oven Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Chilli, Garlic and Lemon.
Easily serves 6
2 small chickens, each weighing about 1.2 kg
2 lemons, juiced and zest finely grated
10 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons dried chilli flakes
1 cup olive oil
8 medium Sebago or Desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
Sea salt and pepper
Fresh chilli and parsley to garnish
PREHEAT oven to 170 C
BUTTERFLY the chickens. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors cut down either side of the backbone. Remove the backbone. Open the chicken outwards and using a sharp knife, remove the rib bones. You can ask a butcher to do this for you.
PLACE garlic, lemon zest and juice, chilli and oil into the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse to mince garlic and emulsify ingredients.
SEASON butterflied chickens with salt and pepper, then massage flesh with about 1/3 of the garlic, lemon, chilli oil emulsion. Place flat, breast side up in the centre of a large baking tray.
PLACE potatoes into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the remaining emulsion over the potatoes. Ensure potatoes are well coated and tip contents of the bowl onto the baking tray. Arrange in an even layer around chicken
BAKE for 1 hour and 15 minutes in 170C oven, centre rack position, until chicken and potatoes are golden and crispy. If potatoes need a little more colour, remove chicken from tray, and place on a foil covered tray to rest. Turn up oven to 200C and roast potatoes for a further 10 minutes.
SERVE on a platter with a little of the pan juices poured over the chicken. Garnish with fresh chilli and parsley.