In Turkey they even add it to a rice pudding, complete with cinnamon. But when it comes to cool weather comforts it’s hard to top a classic roast chook. All you need is a few tricks and perfect bronzed skin, sweet and savoury stuffing, rich brown gravy and juicy white meat will be hitting your table for a brag-worthy dinner.
The first thing you need to do is pat the skin dry – dry skin means more crisp golden shards to fight over at the dinner table. Next comes the stuffing. A classic combo is the savoury flavours of soft leeks and pancetta combined with aromatic sage, the richness of walnuts and the wintery sweetness of apples and pear. Combine them with breadcrumbs and an egg and then loosely stuff into the chicken cavity. If you’ve got some left over don’t cram it in but bake it on the side in a ramekin.
To really nail the roasted skin, season with salt and pepper and slide butter and sage leaves between the skin and meat – the butter will keep the meat juicy and moist and the separation will let the skin puff up and get crackly.
Staged roasting times mean onions and meat get high heat treatment before lowering the temp a little to continue cooking, adding apples and pears to the pan 20 minutes before the timer beeps. While the meat and veg are resting use the pan juices to make gravy with melted butter, flour, apple cider and stock. The result is a Sunday roast you’ll want every night of the week.
The second-best thing about a roast chicken is that it gets a second life as the base of a brown stock. Save your bones, skin and left-over roasting veg and herbs and place in a large pot with lots of water. Cook on a rolling boil and then drain for an intensely flavoursome base for future soups, stews, roasts and gravy. In fact, if you’ve picked up a rotisserie chicken for a quick and easy supper, those bones will also do beautifully as the star of a stock later on.
If you’re pressed for time but craving comfort food, you can try a cheat’s butter chicken pie, made with Coles butter chicken simmer sauce, microwave rice, frozen veg and two sheets of puff pastry, or use a pantry hack for a family chicken pie by adding a jar of carbonara sauce to chicken and vegetables to create a creamy chicken pie filling in a flash.