Best roast chicken recipe. Ever.
One of the most remarkable outings I’ve had this year came yesterday, when I got to see the inner workings of Loblaw’s test kitchen. In fact, the foray is worthy of its very own blog entry, which will come next week. Right now, I’ll just mention that while I was there, I discovered a new product that I think might work really well with the recipe I promised in this week’s Hot Home Products column to share here. It’s the new Memories of Morocco sauce, a sweet-spicy blend that’s flavoured with dates, raisins, garlic and chili peppers. We had lamb shoulder (very economical) that had been cubed and cooked with the sauce long and low in a slow cooker. You can find the recipe here.
The dish was referred to a “tagine”, and it was sensational. It was also interesting, because I was not aware that tagine describes a cooking method as well as a vessel, which is how I’d known it. The Tagine has been long been used in the Middle East. It has two parts — a flat, circular base unit, and a large cone-shaped cover that rests inside the base. Form brilliantly follows function in the design. Invented in the desert, where water was scare, the Tagine’s domed top allows moisture escaping from the ingredients to condense on the lid and fall back onto the dish, creating meltingly tender meat out of even the most affordable cuts – with a minimum of added liquid. I have a tagine from Le Creuset, and it’s one of my favourite cooking vessels.
But back to my promise to explain how to do a killer roast chicken in a Tagine base. I put the cast iron base in the oven on very high heat. After 15 minutes or so, I plop in a whole chicken and leave it there for about 45 minutes. (A cast iron pan works too.) Sometimes, I cut a lemon in quarters and stuff them in the cavity, sprinkle the bird with salt and scatter some fresh rosemary about. Recently, I used Arvinda’s spice mixes, which I discovered at the Delicious Food Show. I mixed a little of the Tandoori Masala with oil and then rubbed it all over the bird. Serve any of these with a mixed mesclun salad, and artisan bread - or roasted white and sweet potatoes - and you've got the easiest dinner ever. Yum. But I’ll also be trying it with Memories of Morocco sauce, and will report back on the results.