The Perfect Roast Chicken (For dummies)

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It is funny how the most basic recipes are the ones that have a million variations and everyone considers theirs the best, still, it is rare to be served a perfectly roast chicken. One that is golden and crunchy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside.

Whole roast chicken is easy to undercook and be raw inside (disgusting and unsafe, since chicken meat has to be cooked, it is not like red meat) or overcooked, in which case it is dry a day in the dessert with no water.

It is flavorful on its own, but it does greatly improve if seasoned properly. It accepts many types of marinade, from indian curries to piri piri but the one that bring out the best of it without masking its flavour, is the one I am sharing today.

It’s my mother’s recipe, in the years of my life, I have never ever seen anybody eat this dish and not love it, want to have a second serving, asking for the recipe, or all of the above.

From a nutritional point of view, chicken is one of the leanest meats that exist, but chicken skin is very high in fat. For this reason, I would recommend not eating the skin if you are trying to lose weight. If you are not, enjoy it by all means, but bear in mind this is the part of the chicken that has the highest amount of toxins so enjoy with great moderation.

On the other hand it is low carb, as opposed to the traditional gravy, this recipe has a sauce made of white wine so it makes it low GI, and also gluten free.

Before going on to the recipe, bear in mind that the cooking time varies depending on the SIZE of the piece that you are trying to roast and the temperature. I find that the perfect temperature in my oven is 180 degrees but it depends on the machine since it can change from one manufacturer to another, but round around that should be to avoid the chicken from burning and still cook it appropriately.

To give an easy cooking time guide:

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Around 800-900 grams : 1 hour

From 1kg to 1.2 kg : 1 hour and 15 minutes

From 1.3kg to 1.5 kg: 1:30 to 1:40 h

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Ingredients (serves 4)

1 chicken

2 tbsp. of garlic powder or 3 cloves of garlic mashed

1 tbsp. Rosemary

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ tbsp. salt

250 ml. of cooking wine (white)

Optional : you can add small baking potatoes if you are cooking for your friends (avoid if you are trying to lose weight, potatoes are pure starch which works like sugar in your blood and will sabotage your efforts by creating a high sugar blood pike and turning your energy to fat to be stored, probably in your hips, tights or wherever you want it less)

Ok so it is time to get our hands dirty! Quite literally as well. Pre heat the over at 180C degrees.

Mix in a little bowl all the dry spices, add the oil and rub your little winged friend until he is completely covered in the mixture. With the rest and if you have decided to add potatoes , you can rub the potatoes, don’t worry about making more for them, the sauce will cover them and they will have plenty of flavour.

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Set the chicken in an oven proof baking tray (with some depth so the wine doesn’t spread and/or fall later on.

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Place the chicken in the middle of the oven with the fan on so the air keeps circulating and let it cook for 30 to 40 minutes and when that side is turning nice and golden turn it around with the help of two spatulas (depending on how much time you have to cook it for, if it’s a small bird turn around after half an hour).

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20 minutes before the time is up, open the over and pour the wine on top of the chicken, let it finish and have a look at it. If you like it really brown and it is not there yet, turn on the grill and give it a 5 minute notch. Bear in mind it is very easy to overdo it with the grill and burn it, so keep an eye on it while you do it.

Serve with salad, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts…

Tip: if you want a lower fat version, pour all the sauce in a bowl, let it cool down in the fridge and remove the drops of fat at the top, then reheat and incorporate.

Easy & Light Comfort food Beer Chicken Casserole

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As we slowly but surely approach winter, the days are getting colder and the coats thicker. Covering ourselves a bit more is a tempting occasion to overindulge and let the kilos pile up until next May, when we will peel off the layers and cry. Cry for help! A personal trainer, a fad diet, a electro stimulation machine… ANYTHING will do when the bikini is coming back.

Well this might sound revolutionary to you, but what about instead of pigging out on pumpkin spice lattes and cheese all the way to xmas only to pig out on sweets & treats all the way into new year, we practice a bit of mindful eating? This is as simple as moderating your food on a constant basis. Choose good foods as soon as possible, and have the odd treat when you really feel like it. If 80% of your diet is clean and nutritious the 20% that you let yourself enjoy a few sugary and fatty foods, will have little to none effect on your body!

Of course you want to enjoy delicious food not once or twice a week but all the time! So do I, and so does everybody else! Being nice to yourself and nice to your body means making the right choices but not torturing yourself by denying yourself pleasures and living in misery, but learning to enjoy what healthy food has to offer. I can promise you that there is very little difference in you cook things right.

Today I wanted to share with you a recipe for a casserole, which normally has a questionable reputation as healthy, since traditionally it was cooked with too much oil and came accompanied by potatoes. This recipe is low fat and low carb, with only some veggies to accompany it, and a sauce made of beer.

Don’t be afraid of cooking with alcoholic beverages, once they boil most of their alcohol has evaporated and they have little to no impact on the caloric content on a meal.

Enjoy this lovely pot of comfort food in good company this weekend.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

1 carrot

1 chicken in pieces

1 beer (33 cl)

1 lemon

Salt & pepper

How to do it…

In a non sticky cooking pot (I keep using my Le Creuset like there is no tomorrow) fry the chicken pieces in no oil at all. Chicken is very high in protein and its meat is very lean, but it does contain a fair amount of fat in the skin. you can remove part or all of the skin before cooking or leave it on. Turn the chicken around so it doesn’t burn too much, basically allowing it toast a bit for 5 to 7 minutes. Take out of the pot and reserve. Bear in mind the chicken will probably have to be done in batches.

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On the same pot, cook the onions, carrot and garlic in medium heat and let them caramelize and become brown. I like to put the salt on them at this point too so they loose the water and cook better. Once this is done, incorporate the chicken back into the pot and mix well. Let it all heat up and then squeeze the juice of one lemon in the pot to deglaze (this means melt the burnt food at the bottom of the pot to incorporate back into the sauce). Stir a couple of times, add a beer and cover with the lid. Let cook for about 15 to 20 minutes on low heat. Open the lid and let cook for another 5 to 10 to reduce the sauce and give it consistency.

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I always recommend this dish the day after it has been prepared, since the flavours will be stronger and better integrated… this is if you can wait of course!

I have served mine here with some Brussels sprouts but any green leafy veggie will do, best with anything within the cabbage family (cauliflower, broccoli…)

Enjoy!

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Easy Healthy Dinners: Stuffed Portobello mushroom & chicken salad

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I have to come clear on this one, I didn’t actually cook this. I went out for a drink with a friend and my husband stayed home and took care of dinner.

It was a lovely surprise to come back to such a delicious display specially when it involved zero effort from my side 😉

I thought it was so good and so healthy, that it was worthy of this compilation of dinners!

So here you go, this is what he swears to me that he put in it.

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 big Portobello mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic

Salt & pepper

A pinch Parsley &

1 tbsp. olive oil

A little dash of vinegar

50gr. Crumbled feta cheese

For the salad

Gem lettuce

Spring onion

Tomato

Roast chicken breast sliced

Dressed with: sesame oil, salt and vinegar

Chop all the ingredients to the minimum and mix in a bowl until you have a paste, wash the mushrooms, fill them with the mixture and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes in 160C. Use this time to assemble the salad and dress it.

Bear in mind that sesame oil is very intense and you only need a little bit of it to make it flavourful

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Garnish the mushroom with a parsley leaf for decoration.

Easy Healthy Dinners: Lemony sea bass with mushroom cups and onion

Another easy way to get slimmer while you sleep!

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Ingredients (serves 2):

1 sea bass (500 gr or so)

1/2 an onion

1/2 a lemon

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt

2 cloves of garlic

12 mushroom cups

Roast the whole Sea bass in the over for about 12 minutes with some sliced onion, clean the fish to get 2 more o less clean fillets and split the onion in two dishes.

This is done with nothing added to the fish (not even salt) since you remove the skin after cooking. While it cooks, clean the mushrooms and peel the garlic and mash it with some olive oil and water. Fill the mushrooms with the mixture and a bit of salt and put in the oven for 10 minutes.

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Then dress the fish by grating the zest of half a lemon on top of the filets, sprinkle with salt and a dash of extra virgin olive oil (Picual or Arbequina variety).

Then take the mushrooms out and serve together.

Broccoli & Feta Salad

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As promised, here is my first Broccoli recipe of the week and of the year! This recipe is low in carbohydrates, high in monounsaturated fats, vegetarian, easy to make, can be kept in the fridge and it will impress everyone if you take it to a picnic or a barbecue! It is also fairly cheap to make and why not, pretty delicious!

I got this recipe from a good polish friend of mine, and she got it from her mother… I haven’t tracked it further than that, but something that already passed on one generation deserves some recognition.

Ingredients (3 to 4 people)

  • 1 Broccoli (medium to big size)
  • 200 gr of Greek Feta Cheese or low fat Feta Cheese
  • 2/3 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
  • Extra virgin Olive oil
  • One fresh garlic clove
  • Dijon Mustard

As I explained yesterday, it is important to cook broccoli (and every other veggie as well) as little as possible and with the method that will interfere the least with its properties, for this purpose, I have chosen steaming.

You put some freshly boiled water into a big cooking pot and put the steamer on top of it. They come in standard measures and they fit most regular sized casseroles. This one is from Lekue and it’s made of super silicone, highly resistant to heat, can stand over and microwave. This company produces a huge range of funky looking silicon utensils for the kitchen, most of them super useful, and easy to clean.

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Wash the broccoli and cut it in small stalks to facilitate cooking and to make it easier to assemble the salad afterwards. Place the florets into one or two of the levels of the steamer, sprinkle with salt and put on the lid.

In medium heat so the water keeps boiling, leave to steam for 8 to 10 minutes, pretty much until is cooked to the level you like it. Bear in mind that steaming will always leave the vegetables more “al dente” than traditional boiling.

While this happens, put the sunflower seeds in a pan and toast them lightly, without adding any oil. It is really not needed! Just be careful because they go from nothing to burnt in a second if you are distracted! (You can tell it’s happened to me, right?)

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With the help of a mortar and a pestle (if you have one) peel and cut the garlic clove and be careful… it is very easy to overdo it with the garlic… make sure it is fresh, since old garlic can get stingy, and you can start with just half one clove and take it from there…

So add half a clove to the mortar, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of Dijon Mustard and mash together carefully with the pestle. Then start adding the olive oil making sure the mixture joins together nicely and becomes a proper dressing. It will need 2 to 4 tablespoons of oil.

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Let the broccoli cool down and loose the water from the steamer and then add it to a big serving bowl. Break the feta cheese on top in rough chunks and sprinkle with the toasted seeds. Add dressing, mix well.

Enjoy…

PS. The salad picture is not mine, I will exchange for the real one tomorrow, I have realized that for some reason, I didn’t take one of the final result :…(