Roast Chicken and Two Thanksgivings

It’s turning out to be a week of firsts for me. Making my first pavlova, my first costumed Italian-themed Thanksgiving (maybe anyone’s first), and cooking my first roast chicken. We also hosted our first Friendsgiving – 6 days later than normal Thanksgiving, served on our coffee table, with some new friends – nice and casual but with all the tasty trimmings. Hopefully we’ve started a new tradition.

But let me back up to the Italian-themed dress-up Thanksgiving. (You’re intrigued, no?)

Mr. F’s family has been having their own Thanksgiving here  in Australia for the past 5 years and this year they decided to kick things up a notch. Gone was the turkey, mashed potatoes and roasted veg – instead, we were treated to gorgeous antipasto platters, pizzas, fried eggplant, fish and rice balls. All topped off with tiramisu, amaretto mousse and pumpkin pie (I wiggled that one in there). To accompany this impressive spread there was Italian wine, beer, music, and mandatory costumes! We had dining partners ranging from Super Mario Brothers to Silvio Berlusconi and one of his mistresses (someone had to go there). It was a great night, with a lot to be thankful for.

But of course for l’americano – it was not quite Thanksgiving. I needed my mash, stuffing, sweet potato and more pumpkin pie. So we invited some friends around and I got to work.

As opposed to tackling a giant frozen turkey for the first time, I decided on a less intimidating roast chicken. Two actually, as I have a fear of underfeeding guests. I bounced around from recipe to recipe looking for the most thorough and clear guidance. I settled on a tag team between Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten and I was pretty pleased with my results. Actually, I was stoked. The chickens looked and tasted gorgeous – the crispy skin and succulent meat – you know, all that.


The Perfect Roast Chicken adapted from Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten’s respective recipes

– 1 (2 kg/4.5 pound) free range chicken
– Salt & pepper
– 1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 10 sprigs
– 1 full sprig of rosemary
– 1 lemon, halved
– 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
– 2 tablespoons butter, melted
– 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
– 4 carrots cut into 5cm/2 inch chunks
– 2 stalks of celery, cut in 5cm/2 inch chunks
– Olive oil

Take your chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before it goes into the oven.
Preheat your oven to 240 C/475 F

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry.

Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, rosemary, both halves of lemon, and half of the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, celery and remaining cloves of garlic in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 10 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Place the chicken in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 200 C/400 F. Roast the chicken for 1 hour and 30 minutes, basting halfway through, until it reaches 82 C/ 180 F (test with meat thermometer in the thigh.)

Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes before carving and serving.


Before you go…

On the kitchen playlist, on repeat: Laura Marling, Song: Darkness Descends, Album: I Speak Because I Can

Put this one on the list for my next trip back to NYC: Puddin NYC


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