When I was a child, if anyone asked me ‘what’s your favourite food’ I would invariably answer ‘chicken with potatoes in the oven’. This is the food that my mother would cook for me when she wanted to please me- e.g. when I had done well at an exam, when I had my birthday, etc. It always made me so happy and ‘at home’ eating chicken with potatoes in the oven… This is not such an original choice, I know. And this recipe is far from an original dish, but since we make it & eat it so often at home, I couldn’t leave it out of my blog. After all, this blog- among other things- is meant as a kind of diary of what I cook at home in the normal course of events. So it’s definitely not just what I cook when friends come for dinner, in which case I sometimes try to be a bit ‘original’ (which is always a misguided idea!)
The method I use is a combination of the Greek way of roasting chicken- mainly, adding lots of lemon, and roasting the potatoes in the same pan as the chicken- and Nigella Lawson’s version of ‘basic roast chicken’. The Greek method- or at least the method used at my home back in Greece- results in the chicken-y and lemon-y juices infusing and flavouring the potatoes. Nigella’s way makes sure the chicken comes out perfectly cooked, without giving you a headache thinking ‘how long should I cook it for’.
As those of you who follow this blog may know, I’m in the process of cooking all recipes from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to eat’… so roasting this chicken ticks off one more recipe from that list. But this is a bit of a fraud, first, because I’ve followed Nigella’s guidelines (mainly, how much time it takes for the chicken to roast) countless times. So making this is definitely not a first. And second, because I never follow her further suggestions, which include adding roasted garlics & shallots to the chicken pan.
In the end, here is how I always do this:
- I smear some salt, black pepper & extra virgin olive oil onto the chicken, and place it in a large pyrex dish (you can also use a roasting pan, of course)
- I peel & cut up the potatoes in small cubes & place them in the same pan, around the chicken
- I put a whole lemon, cut up in 2-3 pieces, up the chicken’s bottom
- I then add salt, pepper, more olive oil & lots of lemon juice (according to taste) to the potatoes & mix them up. I also add quite bit of dried oregano, and nowadays, some dried thyme too
- My partner likes to add a bit of water too, so that the potatoes don’t stick
I then follow these guidelines concerning time, taken from Nigella’s book. They always work perfectly, and the chicken comes out moist & succulent:
- Cook in a preheated oven at 200 degrees celcius (gas mark 6)
- Give the food 20 minutes per 500 gr. (of chicken), plus 30 minutes
- I cook the chicken breast-side down, which Nigella suggests for the first hour. But I leave it like that all along. It makes the meat- especially the breast- really moist & tasty.
That’s it! Ahhh… make sure though, as a basic first step, that your chicken is a good quality one!