Mum’s roast chicken – I can do better, can’t I?

Roast chickenI’ll admit it. There is a dumb-assed competitive streak in me that most men will, and no women can, understand. I leave my eldest daughter out of this as she is the only female I know who has a peppering of this lunacy. When she’s with me, every flight of stairs is an opportunity for a race, every doorway a chance to get through first and even getting groceries in the supermarket is a test of speed and endurance as tins of beans and fresh vegetables are thrown into the trolley as she runs by to finish her list before I do mine.

For my sins, I find myself ‘competing’ in traffic with other cars, totally convinced that the woman in the blue Volvo is trying to get to the lights before me. I weigh up the odds of her lane moving ahead of mine and frustrate myself if things go against me. Yes, I will chuckle to myself and celebrate the pyrrhic victory if I happen to defeat the completely oblivious enemy.

I tell you this by way of trying to get you to understand why I want to roast a chicken better than my Mum does. I ask my daughters who does the best roast chicken. “GRAN” they cry in unison. “What about my Vietnamese Roast?” I ask. “Or, my sausage meat stuffed or my garlic chicken?” I am met with stoney faces and flat refusal to engage in the conversation. All I can do is retreat to the kitchen and be a bit inventive to come up with a roast chicken that will depose my Mum from her chicken winged throne. Hence I present to you; Roast Chicken Stuffed with Onion, Butternut Squash, Walnuts and Rosemary. That will see her off.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 top quality free range chicken
  • 2 onions
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 good handful of walnuts
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 slices of streaky bacon
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • Some fresh lemon juice

Do the obvious first. Wash and dry the chicken. I like to pull the lumps of fat off the bird (just inside the cavity) as they add nothing to flavour and just make things greasy. When done, pat it dry and set it aside. Half the squash, scoop out the seeds and season it. pour on some olive oil and pop it under a moderate grill for 10 minutes. Let it cool.

Butternut squash

Beautiful squash. A fantastic stuffing ingredient.

Then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. While this was cooking, you were chopping and sweating the two onions and the garlic.

Cutting an onion

It won’t save you the tears but it is the fastest, easiest way to dice an onion.

Bonus tip: (This is to prove that it is not all about competing.) Here’s a tip for you on preparing onions. Chop off the top. Peel off the outer skin. Cut it in half lengthways. Then slice it into sections from the root end, leaving the root bit intact. Turn it and cut across the grain like in the picture. This is the easiest way possible to chop an onion.

Put the walnuts in a mortar and squash them gently with the pestle. Chop the squash a bit with a sharp knife until it is pretty small. Mix it with the onions, rosemary and gently crushed walnuts. Add some lemon juice. Season it to taste.

Butternut squash stuffing

The butternut squash stuffing mixture. This is a fantastic blend of flavour and moisture.

Use this mixture to stuff the bird.

Overstuffed chicken

When I say stuff, I mean STUFF. Don’t be afraid to fill the bird chock full.

Sew up the opening and apply the bacon. Season the bird.

Chicken ready for the oven

The chicken dressed and ready for the oven. Note my delicate sewing skills.

Pop it into a 200 degree Celsius oven for an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half. While it is resting for 10 minutes, make a gravy with the pan juices.

Roast chicken

Looks good enough to eat, as they say. That’s just what we did with it.

The result is the most succulent, tasty, roast chicken you can imagine. The stuffing adds subtle flavour and keeps the meat moist and tender. The crispy bacon can be broken into chunks and served with the chicken. The nuts add a wonderful flavour crunch in the soft squash and onion while the rosemary adds a heady aroma.

Roast chicken

I served it with sweet potato wedges and some sugar snap peas. Delicious…

I nearly forgot the wine. We had a nice bottle of Cote de Rhone available and it seemed like a decent choice. It was.

Cotes de Rhone

It went well with the dish and I had a glass after to console myself. You can’t win ’em all.

Mum came over that evening and enjoyed the dinner. She gave me a wry smile as she was leaving and whispered to me “That is probably even better than mine.” I smiled inwardly, savouring the victory. However, it was to be short-lived. A few minutes later, when I asked the girls for their opinion, youngest stared me straight in the eye and said “Don’t be silly Dad. Nobody does better roast chicken than Gran”.

Lesson learned.

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Latest comments
  • Hands down you win! Butternut stuffing, yes, crispy bacon wrap, yes! Walnuts and rosemary a winning combination so in short…yes! The best roast chicken I’ve seen in a while 🙂

    Ps, I know I do a better roast chook than both my folks (but don’t tell them that!)

    • Brave girl Alice. I am inclined to take my daughter’s word for it.

  • Take *that*, Mummy!!

    • I did it in praise of my Mum. Her chicken is pretty delicious and a lot less complicated than mine.

  • A valiant effort, original stuffing too, looks delicious. Maybe you should get your mum to do a guest post with her roast chicken recipe 🙂

  • Sexy, roasting chicken pictures.

    • Thanks Rosemary. It turned out pretty tasty.

  • Some battles aren’t there to be won.

    Next time we knock off chook, we’ll leave the skin on to try this, it looks awesome.

    • Thanks for that. Great to see the differences around the world. I take it you usually skin the bird before roasting? How do you cook it?

      • We raise and kill our own chickens, http://mudonmysneakers.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/two-roosters-less-2/
        We mostly make soups or curries or things like that. Since we have “old breed” chickens, they have fine hairs that are hard to pluck and are as pleasant to eat as any other type of hair.
        Skinning the chicken is also faster, easier and cleaner than plucking.
        We sometimes don’t skin, and I would like to look at breeds that don’t have the hairs.

        • Thanks for that. I’ll bet they are really flavoursome.
          Best,
          Conor

  • This looks great, and that stuffing looks amazing! I will have to try this! Take Mum’s word and do not let the girls dishearten you! How does it feel to sit on the winged throne?

    • A bit uncomfortable Barb, if the truth were to be told.

  • Looks pretty darn good to me! Like the stuffing too…

    If it’s any consolation, I do the ‘lane game’ too. There’s nothing sweeter than sailing past someone whose been driving up your chuff then picked the wrong lane. Sad I know.

    • Sad, but like a red rag to a bull in my case…

  • I love the idea of the squash stuffing, Conor. It all looks really good and anyway some battles you don’t have to win. A Mum’s chick is flavoured with herbs like nostalgia and homeliness. These things take time not necessarily original approaches.

  • That’s one tasty looking bird, Conor 🙂 I like the stuffing and you sure did stuff it full. Looking forward to the guest post 😉

  • I thought I was the only person that had imaginary races with fellow commuters. But they know you’re racing them, they really do. And don’t ever stop to think about why you’d want to get to the office by 7.30 rather than 7.35. That is utterly irrelevant. Delicious looking chicken but i reckon your ma would probably do better as she has two decades plus head start….

    • I might win the lane race about 50% of the time. But, I think I have no chance in this contest, no matter how well I do.

  • No offence to mum, but it looks like you’re the winner! Love your musings on being competitive… it’s quite funny!

    • Thanks Lidia. I could agree with you but Mum might read this….

  • Hard to imagine Mum’s being prettier than that one!

    • If I claim mine to be better, I’m in trouble with the girls. Mum wins, or so I’m told.

  • Love the stuffing, want to see Mum’s guest post to do a private comparison, bet I could race you at the next set of lights! [Boy, have i had some dirty looks in my time: these days have become careful – something called ‘road rage’ seems to have entered the equation 😉 !].

    • The competitive streak helps keep us young. Or, at least, it helps us feel young.

  • You sure did prepare a fine looking chicken, Conor, and that stuffing is an added bonus. Of course, we’ll need to see your Mum’s chicken before a winner can be declared. 😉
    Well done!

    • Thanks John. A nice subtle comment to stir the pot, as it were.

  • Love that butternut stuffing and your chicken looks very moist and love the gravy. So when is Gran going to post her recipe?

  • The chicken winged throne! I love it! 😀

  • That looks delicious, so colourful! That surely will give your mother a run for her money!

  • What’s wrong with a little healthy competition among family? Brings us closer together, that’s all. I think your mum would be quite proud of your chicken. Or at the very least hungry. Well done.

    • Thanks Tommy. There is a growing clamour on and offline to get Mum to guest post here chicken. It could be fun, if I can persuade her.

      • We’d all love to see that! Then we can see how far (or not) the apple falls from the tree. 🙂

  • Even if you daughters think that you mum’s chicken is still the best, you have won over a lot of us with your beautifully stuffed chicken.

    • Thanks Karen. Sadly, if daughters believe it to be true. IT’S TRUE!
      Best,
      Conor

  • You just can’t wait till you have grandchildren yelling, “Pop makes the BEST roast chicken!”, can you? 😉
    I looks and sounds gorgeous.

  • Well it’s most definitely better than my mum’s! And I can say that openly since there is no way she would ever read this:) And though I do a pretty good one myself, I’ve never taken it to this stature. I’m inspired and I’m buying myself a chicken pronto. Cheers, wendy

    • Thanks Wendy. A risky strategy. An enemy (not that you could ever possibly have one) might rat you out to your Mum.
      Best,
      Conor

  • Wonderful stuffing, but the bacon – brilliant 🙂 In the end, no one does it better than Mom, no one 🙂

  • Lovely roast chicken, Conor. I would definitely eat this and be very happy. Sadly, I can’t say if your Mum’s chicken is better but I do know that tie goes to Mum, always. Just the way it is. 😉

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