Roast Chicken and Jersey Royals with Lemon, Golden Raisins and Pine nuts. All across the fertile fields of Jersey, you can now see acres of plastic sheets . These are covering the wonderful Jersey main season potato crop. The earliest growers would have been harvesting from polytunnels and glasshouses in late February. The outdoor potato harvest lasts from early April through to June depending of course on the climate conditions. The valuable growing land here is in such short supply that the potatoes are grown and harvested on near vertical fields. But don’t worry you don’t have scramble up a cliff side as Jersey Royals are available all over the island and in supermarkets around the UK.
What makes Jersey Royals so special?
The above average temperature of Jersey, the easy draining soil and the use of the abundant local seaweed as fertilizer, all helps to shape the flavour of this most wonderful of root crops. However, we need however to go back to 1878 ( fear not, this is only a minor historical digression and an essential part of our tale ) for the origin of the Jersey Royal or to be more precise the Jersey Royal Fluke. A pair of abnormally large potatoes were purchased and later cultivated by Hugh de La Haye. They were the forerunners of the modern Jersey potato industry. Today over 1500 tonnes a day are exported during the season’s peak and the Jersey Royal enjoys EU protected status.
Many purists would say that all you need to eat Jersey Royals with is lashings of Jersey’s finest butter ( I’m a big fan of Classic Herd’s ) and a generous sprinkling of Jersey sea salt. They are the perfect accompaniment to the islands finest seafood, wonderful in salads. I want, however, to suggest to you something a little different. A one tray oven-baked dish that would be perfect served with a dressed green salad and a nice cold beer. The Jersey Royals have a great texture when roasted and are perfect with the chicken. Enjoy.
If you cannot get hold of Jersey Royals you can use any firm early new potatoes Cornish are an idea substitute. If you don’t like chicken drumsticks just substitute four extra thighs. This recipe is Gluten Free.
My girls adore McDonalds and try as I might with other restaurants it is their favourite teatime treat. So I recently got to thinking if I cannot beat them then at least I can endeavour to make my own. I now serve chicken nuggets made from pieces of fresh chicken breast coated in seasoned cornmeal and these delicious Chinese style sesame chicken bites. They sit somewhere between being acceptable to the two little ones ( basically any recipe with ketchup is a winner ) and yet tasty enough for the grownups. Now I know it is hardly the healthiest of meals, but it is wholesome and homemade and makes for happier family teatimes.
Now I am a chef who loves his Sunday lunch and I cannot place the thinnest spatula between beef, lamb, and pork but as a family, we have a clear favourite, the great roast chicken. I am picky however and for the best taste, I prefer a nice free-range bird the skin crisp, the meat moist and succulent. In the depths of wet, windy Channel Island winters I love all the wonderful, traditional garnishes to go with the said roast. Bread sauce, sage and onion stuffing, bacon and chipolata rolls with mounds of fluffy potatoes roasted in duck fat and lashings of gravy.
But this glorious very hot summer and we are looking to our nearest neighbour, remember France is only a few miles away and serve up the roast chicken with some herbs and garlic, sauté potatoes and crisp green salad. Simpler, quicker and next time I must remember the chilled French wine or Normandy cider to serve with it! I stuff the cavity with a big handful of fresh herbs tarragon, parsley,thyme and lots of oregano, add a lemon, then sprinkle with Jersey sea salt and a good twist of fresh black pepper from the mill and add lots of sliced garlic.
Garlic Roast Chicken serves 4
The big secret is cooking the whole chicken in a baking paper parchment to keep it incredibly moist and flavourful. This method of cooking is called ‘en papillote’ and the poultry or fish is sealed in parchment or foil with herbs and other aromatics and cooks in its own steam.
4 lb ( 2 kg ) free-range Chicken from a reputable supplier
Preheat your oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas Mark 5. Place a large sheet of baking paper into the middle of a roasting tray. The parchment must be large enough to fold around the chicken and seal. Place your chicken on the paper, fill the cavity with herbs and lemon halves, rub the butter over the skin, cover with the sliced garlic and season generously. Fold the parchment over the chicken and fold to form a loose parcel.
Place in oven and roast for one hour and a half to two hours depending on the size of your chicken or until the leg juices run clear when pricked with a small sharp knife. ( A meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh should reach 180 F ). Remove from the oven and cover in a T towel and rest for twenty minutes before carving. Simple.
What to Drink? Continental style Pilsner larger or bitter, hoppy I.P.A ale is a great match with the garlic chicken if you prefer wine try a classic White Burgundy or sparkling Rose wine.
I posted an Instagram picture recently of a weekend tea-time meal I made with the help of my eldest daughter, she really is a far better baker than me, you should try her cookies but that’s another post. We had dough balls ( they are both big fans of Pizza Express – good job I used to be a Pizza trainer and learnt how to make them properly ), a big salad for Mummy, and Daddy’s Not-so-Secret Crispy Chicken Wings*. If you want a recipe for a chicken wing with a little more bite try my recipe for the Best Oven Baked Buffalo Wings Ever.
Now if I have a weakness for ‘junk food’ it is Southern Fried Chicken, I don’t have a pressure fryer like a certain well know high street chain, which is one of the secrets to producing a piece of crisp coated moist chicken but after a fair few attempts I do have an excellent recipe for well-seasoned coating and tender chicken. While Daddy’s Not-so-Secret Crispy Chicken Wings recipe doesn’t have anywhere near the 10 -12 herbs and spices in the famous secret Kentucky recipe** it has gone down great guns in lots of pubs, bars, and restaurants. I’m not worried you can share the recipe to and try your own variations.
*You can substitute thighs, drumsticks and chicken breasts.
Proper Southern Fried Chicken calls for Buttermilk but it is still quite difficult to get hold off and relatively expensive. The slight acidity that helps to tenderise the chicken is easily replaced with a few tablespoons of natural yogurt.
For the Marinade
1 small Chicken cut into pieces 18 Chicken Wings, tips removed
Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas Mark 5. Prepare a large non-stick baking tray by wiping with a little vegetable oil. In a large non-reactive glass or plastic bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic salt and Cayenne pepper together. Add the chicken and stir to coat completely, cover with cling film and leave in a refrigerator for at least two hours. Thoroughly mix the coating ingredients and when the chicken is ready, cover each chicken piece liberally in the spiced polenta.
Arrange the coated chicken on the prepared baking tray and drizzle with more vegetable oil. Bake on the lowest shelf in your oven for thirty minutes until the chicken is golden brown. Using tongs, carefully turn each piece of chicken and bake for five minutes longer for wings ( ten to fifteen minutes for drumsticks, large breast pieces, and chicken thighs ), or until the undersides are golden. Place the chicken pieces on kitchen paper to drain off excess fat then transfer to plates and serve.
The chicken can be baked ahead, chilled and served cold for picnics and buffets.
What to Drink? These Chicken wings are best paired German-style Riesling wines or hoppy Continental-style Pilsner lagers and IPA beers.