Sunday, June 19

Roast Chicken, Artichokes, Olives, Lemon & Smoked Garlic

If like me, you find the full monty British roast a bit much for lunch and a royal pain in the arse for washing up, then maybe give this one tray roast a go.   Artichokes are in season now, the ones I bought were from Italy but they do grow in the UK.   I saw some growing in the local allotments and had to fight the urge not to pinch a couple (must not forage on allotments...must not forage...).

Artichokes are fiddly to prep - you need a stout sharp little knife and some lemons in water.    Cut the top 1/3 off the artichoke flower then start cutting around the flower working towards the stem taking off all the tough fibrous leaves preserving the tender inner core.   When you reach the stem peel the fibrous outer away and trim to approx 5 cm in length.    Next get a spoon and dig out the 'choke' - the hairy bit in the middle of the flower.    Trim up the leaves at the top now that the choke has been removed.     You want to be left with the heart of the artichoke, a few tender leaves feathering the top and an inch or so of peeled stem.   Quarter the artichokes length ways and plunge into the lemony water to stop them blackening.      If you can't be bothered with all this prep or have a hangover as I so often do, then shop bought artichokes in oil are OK.    Toss them into the roasting tray 10 mins before the end of cooking time to warm through.   For four:

1 free range chicken, jointed - 2kg
Fresh Artichokes - 4
Green Olives - 150g
Unwaxed lemon - 1 large or 2 small
New potatoes such as Jersey Royal of Pembrokeshire News - 500g
Smoked Garlic (unsmoked is also fine) - 1 head
Rosemary - 2 sprigs
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 100ml
Salt and Pepper

Heat your oven to 210c.    Pan fry your chicken in a hot pan skin side down until nicely coloured (this is optional if you want less washing up but does give a nice colour and flavour to the skin).    Halve your spuds if large - try to get them all to the same size.    Separate the garlic into cloves and gently smash leaving the skins on.   Slice your lemon.   Toss the spuds, artichoke pieces, lemon slices, garlic, olive oil and rosemary into a roomy, heavy roasting tray.   Season well with salt and pepper and mix well.   Top with the chicken pieces and roast for 45 mins or so - until the chicken is cooked at the bone and the spuds and artichokes are tender.    Give the tray a little shake occasionally during cooking and add the olives 10 mins before the end.          

That's drama, just tip the lot into a large serving bowl and let people help themselves.   I served mine with a dressed green salad and some excellent sourdough with which to mop up the lemony chicken juices and squidge the roast garlic.

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