The term ‘comfort food’ really does make you feel good. Admit it, even just reading it felt good, didn’t it? Sunday roasts are synonymous with family entertaining because they are the very definition of comfort food.
I’m sharing with you a way to enhance the flavour of your next roast chicken to astronomical heights, while simultaneously cutting down the cooking time of the actual chicken itself? Unlikely, you think. Challenge accepted.
Being an impatient person, my recipes are always geared towards the time-poor. If I can find a way to shortcut something, I will (without using packet ingredients, because if I can’t pronounce it, I’m not eating it). The simple way to cut more than 30 minutes from your roast chicken cooking time is to remove the backbone and flatten out the chicken. This way, after quickly browning the chicken in a pan, all of the chicken is exposed while baking so it cooks more evenly. No more covering one part of the chicken while the other finishes cooking, or turning the roast – just evenly cooked and juicy chicken in less time.
The garlic cream sauce is a simple combination of roasted garlic cooked alongside your chicken, combined with the pan juices and a little cream to create a delicious gravy with maximum flavour. Drown your chicken in it (well, that’s what I did) and enjoy!
Baked flat chicken with roasted garlic cream sauce
1.5kg whole chicken
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs unsalted butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 thyme sprigs
Garlic cream sauce:
3 heads garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and finely chopped
1/4 cup thickened cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F).
- For the garlic sauce, start with preparing the garlic for roasting by slicing the tops of the garlic heads off so that the cloves are exposed, then drizzle them with olive oil. Place the chopped thyme on a plate, then press the olive oil-coated tops of the garlic bulbs into the thyme. Transfer the bulbs to a baking paper-lined sheet of aluminium foil and wrap up tightly into a parcel. Place on the top shelf of your oven and cook for 50 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towel and place on a cutting board. Turn it over so that the breast is on the board. Using kitchen shears, cut down either side of the backbone and remove (you can keep the backbone in your freezer to make stock at a later date). Turn the chicken back over, and press down firmly in the middle to flatten the bird out. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Heat a large cast iron ovenproof skillet over medium heat. You need to make sure your skillet is big enough to fit a flattened chicken –if you don’t have one, you could use a flameproof roasting tray instead. Add the olive oil and butter to the skillet and allow butter to melt. Add the flattened chicken, skin-side down, and cook, without moving, for 3 minutes or until the skin is golden. Turn over, add the thyme sprigs to the pan and transfer the whole skillet to the oven to cook alongside the garlic. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the thickest part of the chicken reads 75°C on a kitchen thermometer (if you don’t have a thermometer, pierce the thickest part of the chicken thigh with a skewer – if the juices are clear, then the chicken is cooked).
- Remove the chicken and garlic parcel from the oven. Transfer the chicken to a board, reserving the pan juices in the skillet. Loosely cover the chicken with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- To finish the garlic sauce, squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out from each bulb and either mash with a fork, or puree in a blender. Add the garlic to the chicken pan juices in the skillet and place over medium-low heat until simmering. Add the cream and continue simmering for about 2 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a pouring jug.
- Cut the chicken into quarters and serve with a liberal pouring of garlic cream sauce.