I’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.
- 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.
Then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. While this was cooking, you were chopping and sweating the two onions and the garlic.
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.
Use this mixture to stuff the bird.
Sew up the opening and apply the bacon. Season the bird.
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.
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.
I nearly forgot the wine. We had a nice bottle of Cote de Rhone available and it seemed like a decent choice. It was.
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”.