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Recipe: Roast Chicken with Black Bean & Strawberry Salsa
I want to rescue the humble roast chicken from the British Sunday roast. I have always preferred my bird with potato wedges and a salad, so when the guys at Organic UK got in touch and challenged me to put together a meal from a mystery box of Organic ingredients (to celebrate Organic September) I decided to throw together a bright, quick and light weeknight chicken dinner which is worlds away from your usual pub weekend roast number with the beautiful Daylesford Organic chicken that was the star of my delivery.
We have been buying organic food for as long as I can remember. It has always been how we make sure we are getting fresh produce how it would be if we’d grown it ourselves in our greenhouse and vegetable garden outside of our growing months, and organic meat and dairy always tastes a hell of a lot better. Yes this Daylesford Organic chicken costs the same as about 5 of the British free range birds I usually buy on 3 for £10 in Waitrose, but we enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than any supermarket bird – it was a real treat. Just roasted with a bit of butter and seasoning on the skin, the meat had such a delicious, delicate flavour and we savoured every morsel right down to cold leftovers for a few days afterwards.
Usually most people when they think ‘organic’ think fruit and veg, and maybe meat. The point of the #OrganicUnboxed challenge was not just to challenge me to put together something delicious with organic food, but to show what a great range of organic products you can buy here in the UK. You can pick up everything from organic limes to organic soy sauce, safe and happy in the knowledge that you food has not been messed around with and that there may still not be traces of pesticides or other chemicals in what you’re eating. When I lived in California I always used to buy organic or kosher chicken, because with state food labeling laws it was the only way to guarantee my food was not pumped full of hormones, or in the case of fruit and veg, genetically modified.
There are plenty of reasons to buy organic I could list, but I just want to share mine: as for something to be organic it has to be produced without chemicals, and in soil where there are no chemicals present I know what I am eating. I know that any animal products were reared in a setting with good animal welfare standards, and organic meat when I buy tastes a hell of a lot better and it turns into something to savour. I know organic food, especially organic meat is more expensive, and if you can’t afford to eat organic meat and chicken all the time (I know I can’t) it does not mean organic is not for you. Go to a good organic butcher, and pick up a centerpiece for a treat, and really use organic as an excuse to celebrate your food.
While the chicken is in the oven (I’ve found organic chicken roasts a bit quicker than standard chicken, so keep an eye with it and test the patch when the leg joins the bird with a knife if you think it is ready – the chicken will be done when the juices run clear) you can make up a few, quick, colourful sides to make the chicken weeknight friendly (that also make great leftovers). All you need for my California inspired black bean and strawberry salsa is a handful of fruit, a red onion, a can of beans, some salt and some lime, and you can spice the potato wedges however you feel. Staying in Cali, I’ve been using a lot of fajita spice recently. A bunch of watercress, or indeed any green salad brightens up the table, and lightens up the whole meal.
There was an utterly delicious, light and fruity bottle of organic red wine in the box too, which in small glasses made a great weeknight treat. Most organic wine I have tried as come in a screw top, so it is easy to enjoy a little bit of the bottle over several days. I know lots of wine makers who are going through the process of moving over to completely organic wines. Yes this means that the vineyards have organic soil, but it actually makes wine with fuller, brighter flavours, and there is some evidence that you get less of a hangover from it!
Assuming you’ve picked up an average sized bird, I’ve made the measurements here to serve 4 people. The bird probably will serve around 6 people, but I like to have two peoples worth of leftovers. This will make a wonderful round of sandwiches, a chicken salad or two, or even, bulked out with some mushrooms and either leeks or fat, end of the season spring onions a lovely chicken pie. BBC Good Food have a great roast timer on their website, which will help you get the right cooking time for the weight of your roast bird (or joint of meat), and also has some great tips for how to tell when it is done.
Take the chicken out of the fridge half an hour before you plan to eat, and bring it up to room temperature. Slater the skin with butter, and season with a little pepper.
Roast in the oven for as long as your bird needs, allowing for the chicken to sit and rest under foil for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Cut the potatoes into chunky wedges (no need to peel them) and place them in a pan of salted cold water. Bring them to the boil over a high heat and par-boil them for 10 minutes.
Drain, and let them steam dry.
30 minutes before you are due to eat, place them at the top of the oven above the chicken to roast. Toss them half way through cooking to help them crisp up.
While the chicken is resting, roughly chop the strawberries, zest the lime, and drain the beans. Combine them all together into a salsa with the lime juice and some sea salt to taste, and wash the watercress.
What are your thoughts on buying organic produce? Do you try to pick up organic products when you can, or do you focus on buying organic in special areas? And, just as importantly, what is your favourite way to enjoy a roast chicken?
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