rotisserie style chicken
JUMP TO RECIPE -
Did I ever mention I’m a complete Francophile? Ah, ok. I thought I had. The language. The culture. The fact that they can have a very public screaming match, look like the fisticuffs are a fraction of a second away, and a minute later take a drink together. The fact that they don’t need to go away because their country is so damn beautiful. How they do le bisou for a greeting. La petanque.
I love the fact that they’re so hard to please, nothing you can say (or cook!) will ever gain any traction cause you ain’t French. Brilliant - if the English were like this we might still hold on to the Empire. Snobbish, but only in the intellectual sense. Insular, but hosting the blini-and-vodka stalls at the Christmas market. Vincent Cassel. Olivier Martinez. Daniel Craig who?
So not surprising that one of the things I’m absolutely enamoured with is the French village market, complete with their soap-et-vanilla stalls, a thousand varieties of tomato stalls, the skanky ripe and gorgeous veg in the crates right on the floor.
That’s where you can find the traditional rotisseries, with the chickens turning on the spits and the potatoes roasting in the drippings. The ultimate salivating lunchtime temptation. Such a match made in heaven: chickens browning and crisping evenly and the spuds underneath, basting in the glorious fat, shaken about every now and then.
My version is of course only a reproduction of the process as no matter what, the chicken won’t turn here, but roasting some of the time on its belly helps brown it more evenly. The key thing is to match a rack onto the roasting dish so the chicken doesn’t slide off and land on the floor during basting. And the outcome is really good - the best you can get sans rôtisserie.
- For the dry rub:
- 1 tbsp. sea salt flakes
- 2 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 tbsp. garlic granules
- 1 tsp dry mustard powder
- 2 tsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- For the chicken and potatoes:
- 1 large free range chicken, about 2kg
- 2 thick rashers of back bacon
- 2 tbsp. butter, very soft
- 1kg new or medium sized roasting potatoes, washed, scrubbed and sliced 1cm thick
- 1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and unpeeled
Keep the chicken unwrapped in the fridge so the skin dries out. Mix all the dry rub ingredients, sprinkle all over the chicken and rub it in well all over the skin. If the chicken is trussed, make sure you get with the rub into all the folds. If possible, do it a couple of hours or even a night in advance.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5. Prepare a roasting tin large enough to fit the potatoes comfortably and a grill, oven or roasting rack to sit on top of the tin. Arrange the potatoes and the garlic cloves in the tin.
Brush the chicken all over with the soft butter, pat the spices that brush off back onto the chicken. Place the bacon rashers over the breast and secure with meat pins. Place the chicken breast side down on the rack so that it rests on the bacon. Carefully load it into the oven, making sure there’s clearance between the chicken and the oven roof.
Roast for 30 minutes, then turn it over breast side up, remove the bacon and place it on the rack on its own. Return the chicken to the oven and roast for 1 - 1 ¼ hour until the juices run clear when the flesh is pierced with a knife, and the probe stuck into a thigh shows internal temperature of about 75C/170F.
Halfway through the roasting time you may need to carefully take off the rack with the chicken on it and rest it on a plate, so that you can stir the potatoes around. When putting the chicken back on, lift it upright with two large forks to pour the juices from the cavity into the baking tray. If the skin isn’t crisping enough, turn up the heat to 220C/425F/gas 7 for the last 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the rack and let it rest in a warm place for 20 minutes to half an hour, loosely covered with foil. Keep the potatoes in the oven and give them an extra blast while the chicken is resting. When everything’s ready, scoop the potatoes and garlic from the tin and arrange them around the chicken. Carve the meat or just chop the bird on the bone into 6-8 pieces, using poultry scissors.