Last Saturday, a girl friend of ours who lives in Singapore came home for the weekend. Instead of going out to eat, we opted to do a pot-luck dinner at a friends apartment for a more casual and relaxed atmosphere.
These are my girl friends from my first job, one of who was even my first boss. I couldn't have asked for a more thoughtful and fun bunch of coworkers. Whatever fear and anxiety I might have had about venturing into the corporate world for the first time were immediately forgotten. Because of them I loved my work. I even found myself getting up before the alarm would go off. Seriously. Me.
Now, we've all taken different career paths since then but we've remained very close and we make it a point to have at least one dinner together every month. Last year, we took it a step further. We flew to Hanoi, Vietnam and had ourselves a fabulous time. So fab in fact that we've decided to do it every year, take a trip somewhere together, though not necessarily out of the country.
For the dinner, I initially wanted to do a curry and chutney pairing but had to nix that idea as one of them isn't fond of Indian food. So I went with a safe yet always-welcome choice: roast chicken. This is a recipe I took from Nigella's Forever Summer. I had this recipe bookmarked for a while now so this was the perfect time to try it . I liked that the chicken was infused with the aroma and flavor of the lemon instead of having it squeezed on or rubbed in. For me, there is a fine line between chicken that is enhanced with lemons and that lemon chicken from Chinese restaurants which I don't care much for. This is so incredibly easy. It turned out as Nigella promised it would, "with the summer scent of lemon and thyme - and of course, mellow, almost honeyed garlic".
The night had all the ingredients for a super time. The best of friends, free flowing wine, good music, and wonderful food! The table was crammed with goodies like a cheese platter, yummy Spinach dip, crackers and bread, and anchovy garlic pasta dish that I loved. Then of course dessert: Strawberry Shortcake from Costa Brava.
I was a bit nervous about my chicken since I hadn't tested this recipe before. But to my relief, it received praises all around. They're quite the critical and brutally-frank bunch, these ladies. They'd tell you if it tasted like feet just because they loved you. Did I mention how great they are? :)
Slow-roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken
10-12 choice chicken pieces (about 2-2.5 kg)
2 heads garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves, wtih tips chopped off
2 lemons, cut into eighths
small handful of fresh thyme
2 tbsps olive oil
150 ml white wine
3/4 cup white wine
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 320F.
Put the chicken pieces into a roasting tin and add the unpeeled garlic cloves, lemon chunks and the thyme. Just roughly pull the leaves off the stalks, leaving some intact for strewing over later. Add the oil and using your hands mix everything together, then spread the mixture out, making sure all the chicken pieces are skin side up.
Sprinkle over the white wine. Grind on some pepper and sprinkle over with sea salt. Then cover tightly with foil.
On a separate roasting tin, scatter your choice vegetables. In this case, I opted for brussel sprouts and potato marbles. Whole onions would do well too. Repeat the same process as the chicken, but this time omitting the wine.
Put both tins in the oven to cook, at a flavor-intensifyingly low heat. 2 hours for the chicken, and about an hour and a half for the veggies.
Remove the foil from the chicken roasting tin, and turn up the oven to 390F. Cook the uncovered chicken for another 30-45 minutes, by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons have begun to scorch and caramelise at the edges.
The original recipe didn't include potatoes and brussel sprouts, but I like roasted vegetables with my protein. I might try it with turnips and onions next time. Scatter the potatoes and brussel sprouts over the chicken or serve separately. Then strew with remaining thyme.
Because I was taking this out of the house, I transferred the vegetables into the other tin so I would only need to carry one and served it as is. Oh and please pardon the lousy picture, it was the only I managed to snap before it was attacked. :)