Here’s to you, Jamie Oliver

I am a big fan of British chef Jamie Oliver. His Food Revolution cookbook contains simple recipes that have yet to yield a poor result, and I fully support his mission of attempting to get more people cooking at home (with better ingredients).

Yet despite all my Jamie successes (ground beef wellington, mini-shells with prosciutto and peas, glazed pork chops), I had always used a Martha Stewart method/recipe for roast chicken. However, faced with a chicken to roast last night, I thought, “Why not give Jamie’s roast chicken a chance?”

Best (chicken-based) decision ever.

Jamie’s roast chicken is prepared very simply: rubbed with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and fresh paper. A lemon poked over and over with a fork and some aromatics (thyme, rosemary) are stuffed into the cavity (I also included several cloves of garlic and rubbed a very small bit of mashed garlic under the skin, along with drizzling the chicken with a small amount of juice from the lemon). Set atop a “trivet” of veggies (some roughly-chopped onions, celery, and carrots), the chicken goes into an oven that was preheated to 475 degrees and gets cranked down to 400 after the bird goes in. I swear, you can hear the skin start to crisp immediately.

Chicken ready to go in the oven

Out of the oven and resting

Instead of roasting my veggies in the same pan, I (at Jamie’s recommendation) partially cooked them by boiling first, then tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper, added a few garlic cloves, and put them in the oven on the lower rack about 45 minutes after the chicken had gone in (A 3.5 lb. bird needs about an hour and twenty minutes). When the chicken came out, I moved the veggies to the upper rack for another 15 minutes while the chicken rested under a foil tent on a cutting board and I worked on the gravy.

Boiling prior to roasting

Seasoned and spread in a single layer

I’ve actually never made homemade gravy of any kind. However, all Jamie’s roasts are served with gravy, so I decided to give it a whirl. I mashed up the veggies that had formed my trivet and cooked them, the meat juices, and a heaping teaspoon of flour in a saucepan. I added a glassful of dry white wine and some chicken stock, then cooked it to the consistency I wanted and strained it to get rid of the larger chunks of veggies.

YUM.

We served our dinner with a Caesar salad and cornbread provided by my sister, Kristen. She also brought brownies for dessert. We had the brownies al a mode with gelato that I procured during my holiday season at Zingerman’s.

Hail Caesar - and my serving gear

Sides, dessert...and some 3-Buck Chuck.

Best prize ever.

All in all, this was an excellent meal and ridiculously easy. The chicken has crispy skin and a moist, flavorful meat. The carrots add a subtle sweetness to the veggie blend. It’s also not hard to juggle the cooking of the bird, veggies, and gravy, even in a small kitchen with one oven. If you’re looking for a hearty roast dinner, give Jamie a try.

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