Monday, August 11, 2014

Roast Chicken with Creamy Parsley and Fondant Potatoes

I purchased Gary Mehigan's new book "Favourites" a couple of weeks ago during his book-signing at Costco. I love that he has put together his all-time favourite recipes in one book, because honestly, there are way too many recipes out there that I would love to try. I may be dreaming of cooking chilli crab one minute and baking kouign amann the next, and sometimes I just end up making more that I can fit leftovers in the fridge.

So far, I've attempted two recipes from the book. One is the XO sauce, which is utterly, utterly delicious. I was a little skeptical about making a big batch of it, but I'm so glad I did because it means I can eat more of it with more of everything! The other recipe that tempted my tastebuds was the Creamy Parsley and Nutmeg, which I found a little unusual yet intriguing with the combination of parsley and cream. A little like creamed spinach, but with a herby taste, I suppose? It turned out to be one of the most amazing things I've ever made with parsley. It's luxuriously rich and creamy, and the added sweetness from the shallots makes this so tasty that I couldn't stop eating it out of the pan (I was just checking for seasoning, really). In his book, Gary recommends serving it with a roast chook or rib of beef. I've been cooking a lot of red meat lately, specifically pork belly and pork shoulder (see my previous post on Korean Pulled Pork Burgers), so I settled on a recipe for roast chicken from Gary's other book (under Lantern Cookery Classics). The recipe is also available on the Penguin/Lantern website.

Creamy parsley and nutmeg
It's wonderful how the simplest recipe for roast chicken can yield the most satisfying results. A testament to how good it is, is when my 6-year old takes a bite and her face just lights up as she goes "Mmmmm..." before she reaches for another mouthful. It's really just chicken stuffed with thyme, garlic and lemon, but I guess it's the technique and method of cooking it that makes the difference. Also important is to make sure you use good quality, corn-fed, free-range chicken. I find that La Ionica (chemical and hormone free) chickens are really good too, which we always use when making our best ever Hainanese chicken rice.

Fondant potatoes
I also made the buttery, thyme-scented fondant potatoes which were lovely and luscious. With the butter left in the pan, I added some of it to the creamy parsley, and used the rest for sautéing some baby spinach with garlic and shallots.

To make the creamy parsley, you will need 4 bunches of parsley (continental flat-leaf, or mixed with curly parsley). Pick the leaves and boil them in water for 2-3 minutes until softened. Drain and squeeze out all the water, then chop finely. Heat a pan with some olive oil and saute some shallots and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Then pour in some thickened cream (about 2 cups) and simmer until reduced by half. Add in the parsley, followed by some grated nutmeg. Simmer briefly until most of the cream is absorbed. Add more seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately.

Roast chicken with fondant potato
Adapted from Lantern Cookery Classics: Gary Mehigan

1 × 1.6 kg free-range chicken
1 lemon, quartered
2 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled
table salt
1½ tablespoons olive oil
5 small golden shallots, peeled
splash of dry white wine
100ml (about 1/2 cup) chicken stock

Fondant potato
170 g unsalted butter, chopped
4 large desiree potatoes, cut into 7 cm × 5 cm × 1 cm-thick rectangles


  1. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 180°C/350°F  (200°C/400°F conventional).
  2. To remove the wishbone from the chicken, lift the neck skin to reveal the breast. Scrape the point of a small sharp knife down the wishbone (it looks like an upside-down ‘V’ shape). Put your fingers behind the bone and tug to remove it. Stuff the cavity with the lemon, thyme and 1 clove of the garlic. Truss the chicken with kitchen twine.
  3. Heat a flameproof roasting pan over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pour the olive oil into the pan. Brown the chicken lightly on all sides, starting with one leg, turning it over to brown the other leg, then the breast. Turn the chicken onto its back, then roast for 20 minutes.
  4. Baste the chicken with the pan juices. Add the shallots and remaining garlic and roast for a further 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. To test, pierce the thigh at the thickest part – the juices should run clear. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the fondant potato, melt the butter in a deep heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. As the butter begins to bubble, add the potato and thyme in layers (I made two layers). Reduce the heat to low, then cook for 10 minutes or until the potato is golden. Turn the potato over and cook for another 10 minutes or until golden. Add the water; the butter will foam and darken slightly. Baste the potato well and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from the heat, then leave to stand for 5 minutes. Season with salt. Set aside and keep warm.
  6. Place the roasting pan of cooking juices over low heat, then crush the roasted garlic and shallots into the pan with the back of a fork. Add the wine and stock and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes. Set aside.
  7. Cut chicken into quarters and serve with creamy parsley, gravy and fondant potatoes.