Saturday, 25 April 2015

Laid-back bowl of roast

Do you ever crave the delicious taste of a Sunday roast but without the formality it inherently entails? Oh, and the amount of washing up! Last Sunday I had to invent a meal on the spur of the moment, which is something I very rarely do, but I hadn't been sure of what we would be doing on the day (after going to church in the morning) and whether or not we'd be at home. As it happened, we did end up being at home, so in the morning I had a quick brain scan of what I could remember being in the fridge (plus a little help from Tesco metro), and managed to cobble together in my mind something which encapsulated the taste of a roast, but with a bit of quirkiness and zing. Enter, laid-back roast in a bowl. 

This dish worked out so well because, although I rarely make a roast, my mouth was really watering for one, so it was a really easy option, using only one large roasting tray and a frying pan. The cooking time admittedly isn't too shy of the time it takes to put a roast together, but as I said before, the lack of washing up makes it worth it.

To make your own laid-back bowl of roast, you will need:

Selection of root vegetables (I used a majority of sweet potato, plus a couple of potatoes and a parsnip I needed to use up)
Chicken breasts for however many people you are feeding
Chestnut mushrooms
Clove or two of garlic
Celery salt
Olive/rapeseed/sunflower oil (whichever is your preference)
Approx. 1cm slice of butter

Pre-heat oven to fan 190C.

Chop up the root veg into smallish pieces approximately 1 1/2" across, place in a saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, simmer for no longer than five minutes. If you are using parsnips, I would recommend adding them once the water is simmering as they can soften to nothing before you realise. Empty the roots out onto a large roasting tray, toss in oil and season, then arrange so as to leave a space in the centre for the chicken breasts. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove from the oven and add the chicken to the tray, taking care to baste the chicken as you add it, and season once in place. Put back in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. If you are cooking this for a larger number of people, just use two separate roasting trays, one for the veg and another for the chicken. You could certainly use a whole chicken if you are cooking for a lot of people, just check the cooking time and adjust the sequence for adding everything to the oven accordingly. You would most likely need to put the chicken in before the roots.

Prepare the remaining vegetables.

Slice the leeks, peel and slice the chestnut mushrooms and cut the garlic into thin slices. Peel the shallots.

When there are 20 minutes left on the timer, add the butter to a large frying pan, melting it but taking care not to let it burn.

Add the sliced leeks, mushrooms and garlic and soften on a medium to low heat for about ten minutes, covering once the leeks are nicely falling apart. Stir occasionally.

Once the veg has nicely softened, remove the lid, add the shallots and turn up the heat. You want to give the softened veg a nice, golden crispiness, and also cook the shallots sufficiently (if you prefer, you could roast the shallots for approximately 20 minutes, just throw them in the roasting tin with the roots.)

At this point, you need to add the piece (ou est le "e accent"?) de resistance; celery salt. Give it a generous shake, along with some salt and pepper to your taste. This will give this dish the unique taste I was so delighted with; as the veg becomes golden, the celery salt will cling and imbue it with flavour.

Keep on the hob until the roots and chicken are ready.

When the chicken has been removed from the oven, place it on a chopping board and shred...

...then add to the pan with the leeks...

...followed by the roots.

Stir to combine, then serve in large bowls.

You will (hopefully) find the oil and butter used in the cooking make this meal plenty moist enough without being greasy, and render the usual British desire for gravy on one's roast unnecessary.The celery salt really does make this meal though. If you've never used it, it can be found in the herbs and spices section of your supermarket. It isn't an obscure ingredient, so you shouldn't need to visit a particularly large supermarket, but it probably won't be stocked in an express style shop.

This meal went down really well in our house; the Tonjus loved it, and husb and I guzzled it down (in the most civilised way, I assure you.) Actually, I am always the last to finish because I savour eating, so there was less guzzling done by me, but there was plenty of appreciation. 

So maybe, if you were thinking about what to eat tomorrow but really didn't fancy getting out an array of pots and pans to cook a roast, you'll consider this instead. I'd love to know how it goes if you do, so please send a message via the facebook group, (post on the wall or leave a message) or link on the comments section here.

As always, thanks so much for reading :)

x Sam

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