It´s been three months since I´ve first started this adventure and it has been quite a ride! 3 months is not much, but like any other milestone it made me reflect on the meaning of food blogging, how rewarding it has been and how I just absolutely love it! 🙂
So I thought of celebrating my gut feeling´s first trimester (a perfectly good excuse for a party) with a very special recipe passed on to me by Adelia, a dear friend of my grandma´s who didn´t want me to starve in college. So she wrote me a recipe book with cooking essentials that I treasure dearly and roasted chicken was there to feed me but also to impress others with my recently adquired culinary skills. She had it all covered 😉
But before going further into this special recipe and its secrets, I wanted to share with you a very interesting “meaning of food blogging” post written by Heidi from 101 cookbooks, an increadible blog in the form of a recipe journal (love this description!). In this post she shares her insights on how she works and what it means to dedicate more than a decade (respect!) to this passionate activity. You can read her inspirational post here.
And now back to the recipe. What if I told you that you can make the most flavorful, tender and insanely succulent roasted chicken ever with just a whole lemon, a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil? I assure you that it is possible and that the only down side is the time it takes in the oven – approx. 1 hour and 20 minutes. Think of it as the little sacrifice to make in order to enjoy the best roasted chicken ever!
The secret is in the lemon! You place the whole lemon inside the chicken and leave it closed before, during and after roasting, with no cuts, in order to work its magic. I am convinced that there is some kind of scientific explanation for this, but unfortunately Adelia never shared it with me. One thing I know is that when I first made this recipe and invited my college roommates, they could not believe I had just started cooking on my own! I have been baking since I was 7 with my baker grandma, but was not very interested in main dishes. It only changed when I turned 18 and got this wonderful personalised cookbook.
To accompany the chicken I chose stoemp (pronounced stump), a richer variant of mashed potatoes and a very popular side dish here in Belgium. It consists of a combination of mashed potatoes with one or several root vegetables such as carrots, cabbage and/or celeriac. It is traditionally featured alongside boudin (a typical Belgian sausage), beef stews and roasted meat. Very yummi and filling!
To pimp it up a bit, I´ve turned it into duchess potatoes (please see recipe), as you can see in the picture below.
- 1 chicken (approx.1,5kg/ 3,3lbs)
- 1 medium lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- A pinch of sea salt
- 6 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chunked
- 1 cup cabbage, finely chopped
- 1 cup rice milk
- 1 egg
- A pinch of sea salt
- A pinch of pepper
- 2 tsp nutmeg
- Heat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF.
- Place the chicken in a large roasting pan.
- Insert the whole lemon inside the chicken. Please DO NOT open or cut the lemon, otherwise it won´t work.
- Season with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil.
- Put it in the oven and roast for 40 minutes. Open the oven and make little cuts in the chicken with a sharp knife but be careful not to perforate the lemon. Drizzle the sauce into the chicken with a spoon.
- Roast for another 40 minutes. There is no need to turn the chicken.
- While the chicken is roasting, boil the veggies in a large pan with a pinch of salt.
- When the vegetables are still firm but soft enough to mash, drain and mash them with a potato masher leaving some bits of vegetables for crunchiness (avoid using a ricer, as it will purée the vegetables and it won´t be a stoemp).
- With a wooden spoon, well incorporate the milk and egg and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste.
- I suggest serving the stoemp in the form of duchess potatoes. In order to do so, force the purée from a piping bag in the desired shape and bake in the oven along with the chicken at 190ºC/375ºF for 40 minutes or until golden.