Although Wati cook dinner most weeknights, I try to cook dinner for husband and myself once a week. As I only have about 1.5 hours to prep and cook, the dish has to be quick and easy to prepare. So no more than 5 ingredients and no stewing or braising. Tonight for dinner I roasted a whole chicken and some vegetables. There was some walnut bread too, bought from the Bakery Depot. And for dessert husband and I shared a very scrumptious Pecan and Orange cupcake, also from Bakery Depot.
Last weekend husband bought some fresh kampung chicken from the wet market. Kampung is the Malay word for village, and kampung chicken does not mean that the chicken came from the village, but was reared in the kampung style, i.e. allowed to roam freely, the equivalent in western countries would be free-range chicken I suppose. Kampung chicken retails at almost double the price of a battery chicken, since it costs more to produce. The specimen above cost $9, and is enough to feed me and husband and still have some leftover for lunch tomorrow.
The chicken was first rubbed with some salt and olive oil and roasted at a 220 degree C, during the roasting time I peeled some onions and squeezed some lime juice. The lemon carcass and onions were then stuffed into the chicken and the heat lowered to 180 degrees C. The lime juice mixed with some meat stock (the last 7 cubes from my freezer stock) were used as basting liquid. After about 40 minutes, I stuck a sharp knife into the thigh and observed that the "juices run clear", yippee, the chicken was done. The pan juices were deglazed with more of the basting liquid and then reduced to make a glazing sauce. If you use a kampung chicken or similar good quality chicken, you will have a terrific dish. The meat was juicy, lean and muscular, unlike the pappy texture of battery chicken. The skin was quite thin, in battery chicken the layer of fat is thick and always makes me imagine that the fat is the collection centre for all the injections of hormones and antibiotics, but tonight, husband and I could not resist the skin, it was soo crispy and more-ish. The clear, mildly sweet taste of the meat reminded me of why chicken used to be such a prized meat many years ago.
While the chicken was cooking, I was also frantically cutting a cauliflower into tiny little pieces and then roasting them in a baking sheet with olive oil and salt. They needed to be turned only once or twice. Half way through I added some sliced eggplant as eggplant does not need as long a cooking time. I still had a jar of oven-dried tomatoes in olive oil that third sister gave me for Chinese New Year, that went well with the roasted veges. The vegetables were fabulous - especially the cauliflower. I learnt this method of cooking cauliflower from egullet, and this is one of our favourite vegetables now. The edges are caramelised while the rest of the floret is still crispy and sweet. It is terribly addictive, I could finish 3 plates of the stuff without blinking. If you are making this for the first time, please factor in more than you need, they shrink dramatically during cooking, generally allow half a head per person. Bon appetit!