For the past three weeks I’ve been largely alone at home. My husband has been traveling on business, only coming home a couple of days a week, if at all. As a self-proclaimed strong, independent woman it pains me to admit that I hate being alone. And it’s not so much loneliness as it is a deep, empty feeling of having no one to take care of.
Yes, judge me all you want but taking care of people has a special place deep in my soul. You could say it’s backwards, you could call it anti-feminist, but the very act of making food and sharing it with those you love is really a form of taking care of people, isn’t it?
Regardless of how you see it, providing sustenance for those around me is a very basic, primal action that triggers all my non-evolved brains — reptilian, mammalian or otherwise. When I don’t have anyone to cook for I feel a bit at a loss. I hadn’t cooked anything beyond a few scrambled eggs for weeks.
When my husband is around, every Saturday is roast-chicken day. I spend the afternoon doing the very primal thing of basically throwing a carcass into a hot fire, roasting peppers over a flame and steaming vegetables over boiling water.
Last Saturday I found myself sitting on my couch wondering what I’d eat for dinner. A cold can of tuna maybe? How about really going for it and making an omelet? It all sounded so extremely depressing. So I decided: You know what? Maybe it’s time to take care of someone I usually never take care of, myself.
I called up my trusty butcher, ordered a hefty-sized roasting chicken and for the first time in three weeks took care of myself. Was it as satisfying? I can’t lie and say it was, but I also can’t lie and say I didn’t enjoy giving myself a little care too. Plus, there really isn’t anything more comforting than a warm roast chicken dinner. And while my roast chicken recipe is so easy it almost isn’t a recipe, it comes with a guarantee of comfort.
Quick and Easy Roast Chicken
1 large roasting chicken, at least 2kg
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 lemon, halved
1 large clove of garlic, halved
1 medium bouquet of thyme and rosemary
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/gas mark 6 while the chicken comes up to room temperature.
2. Cut the wing tips off with a sharp knife so they don’t burn in the oven.
3. Make sure the cavity of the chicken is clean of any organs and remove any unwanted bits of fat, excess neck or skin at the tail.
4. Pat your chicken dry of any moisture inside the cavity and all around the bird; a wet bird will not crisp up.
5. Sprinkle a few pinches of salt and pepper in the cavity and toss in the lemon, herbs, garlic and onion.
6. Truss your chicken in any way you choose. Trussing it will ensure that it cooks more evenly on the outside and that the cavity isn’t exposed to too much heat, which can dry out the breast. However, because we’ve filled the cavity that shouldn’t be too much of an issue. You could just tie up the legs together so it looks more presentable.
7. Toss the bird into a roasting dish lined with foil if you don’t like mess, which I don’t. If you don’t mind the cleanup, you can sit the bird on a bed of carrots, leeks, celery, onions, fennel and even potatoes.
8. Sprinkle the skin with some more salt and pepper.
9. Give it 30 minutes in the oven on the center rack before you tilt the pan and ladle a couple of spoons of those juices onto the bird. This will let you use the chicken’s own fat to get a golden brown and crispy skin.
10. Rotate the pan and give it 30 more minutes or until the juices from the thigh run clear.
11. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes before carving so it retains its juices. et