Last week we served this chicken for dinner, at the outside table, in the Wisteria covered courtyard of the terrace Sarah and I are house sitting for the next little while. We took the dish straight from the oven to the table. Even though it is sizzling hot, served just with a rocket and Kipfler potato salad it is beautiful and light, perfect for a balmy evening.
I copied this recipe from an old Gourmet Traveller I was reading while bored en-route to Europe last year and ferreted it away for a time when I’d have a kitchen again. After months travelling and staying in cheap accommodation with horrific (if at all) kitchens, (at a place in Venice the total cutlery consisted of plastic spoons) I finally had a kitchen again for two weeks in Portugal. Even though I was a million miles away, just having functioning hot plates and a baking dish made it feel like home.
I spent two weeks picking carob, eating figs and swimming in an ocean that was soupy hot Mediterranean or breathtakingly cold from the Atlantic, depending on which way the wind blew. I had bountiful oregano in the planter box at the front of my cottage, organic chicken, and a little village ten minutes walk down the hill with a grocer who laughed at my attempts at Portuguese but still managed to sell me olives and chorizo.
Something beautiful happens in the oven with this dish. Because the chicken is resting in the wine and stock it poaches, so you get moist, tender flesh but the paprika chicken skin, which is exposed to the heat of the oven goes crispy with an almost-burnt crunch. The red onions caramelise and all of this is infused with the hint of zesty lemon.
Sarah and I have lend of this terrace in Fitzroy for three months. It has a large open plan kitchen with excellent appliances, gas, and a temperamental oven that needs coaxing with kind words to ensure it cooks things evenly. That’s all I need for it to be home for now.
Roast Chicken with Chorizo, Olives and Sherry
From Gourmet Traveller (2008) Emma Knowles
75ml olive oil
3 small chorizo, thickly sliced
2 Spanish onions, wedged
1 head garlic, separated
125ml Fino sherry (or red wine)
125ml chicken stock
80g green olives
¼ cup fresh oregano, loose
1 lemon, zest and juice
2kg chicken on the bone
20ml sherry vinegar
Preheat oven at 200C. Put half the olive oil in a large, heavy roasting pan. Lay the chorizo, onion and garlic at the bottom of the pan – season. Add the sherry, stock, olives, oregano, lemon zest and juice. (The layering here is important.) Rest the chicken on top of this mixture with the skin side facing up. Drizzle the chicken with the rest of the oil. Sprinkle with paprika.
Roast for 45-50 minutes. Add vinegar to hot pan.
Serve with rocket and Kipfler potato salad.