More than a decade ago, I started cooking a little bit more than kari/masak merah/asam pedas/repeat after watching one Nigel Slater doing a cookery programme on telly. This was before Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef became popular, by the way. Sure, cookery programmes are dime a dozen, but Slater seems to concentrate on essential hearty dishes. Nothing out of the ordinary, but he pretty much demystified Western cuisine by showing me that all these can be done in the comfort of my own home, without trekking to some pub in the Peaks on a busy Sunday. So, I went to buy his book aptly called REAL COOKING, and made a handful of dishes that took my fancy, some of which you may have read all those years ago on this blog[1]. I had a rudimentary gas oven at my attic flat, and I managed to conjure some, err… gems.

After moving to my current property, the lack of an oven meant meant all the cooking was on the hob. And my procrastinating to getting the kitchen sorted meant it was back to kari/masak kicap/etc. Fast forward to this weekend, for obvious reasons, I dusted off that 17-year old Nigel Slater book and made something that I’ve not made/had for years. The humble roast chicken.

The bird cannot be wet, so I had to dab it dry with a kitchen towel. Smeared some butter on the bird, concentrating on the breast. I also added a splash of the extra virgin. Season generously with salt and pepper. I threw in a couple of potatoes and parsnips for good measure. Place the bird on its back (I swore I’ve roasted a chicken on its front before but this must’ve been a recipe from another book). Rosemary’s more for lamb, but since I’ve a massive rosemary bush in the front of the house, no prizes for guessing which herb graced the roasting tin in among the potatoes. Squeeze the juice of one whole lemon onto the bird, and stuff the remaining squeezed lemon into the bird.

This was the first time I ever used a modern electric oven, and the advice given in the smeg manual was to use the fan-assisted circular option for this. I heated the oven to 220 deg C and roasted the chicken for a good 15 minutes. This is supposed to tighten the skin of the bird over the breast. Bring the roasting tin out and baste the bird with whatever juices collecting in the tin. Bring the heat down to 200 deg C and place the bird back into the oven for another 45 minutes. Once done, leave the bird to stand for 10 minutes. I just couldn’t believe how good looked and smelled.

The skin was crispy and evenly golden, and when I carved the leg portion for ayah, steam came out from the skin and the juices began to drip. This has to be the oven. I only did what it said in the book.

One thing I didn’t do by the book was to remove the bird and put the potatoes and parsnips back into the oven at 220 deg C.

I was too famished.

[1]I used to have a Eh, lapar lah! and Moh makan! segment on this blog. Segment. Ada hati segment.