The other chicken & rice


Chardonnay time is roast chicken time

The recipe below is my new, improved, simplied and customisable version of a recipe my friend Shane shared wih me.

It has become a hero dish of our household: it is easy, like idiot-proof easy; it mostly uses stuff you already have; it's a pretty fast slow-cooked meal; and it gives you guaranteed crispy skin, juicy meat and buttery, flavoursome rice all in one.

The beauty of it (apart from the ridiculous amount of butter it uses) is you can shift the flavour profile each time you cook it:

 Italian (fennel in the rice/rosemary butter on the bird)

Spanish (green olives/smoked paprika butter)

 Middle Eastern (capsicum/za'taar, ras el hanout, cinnamon or cumin butter)

 Japanese (eggplant or mushroom/ginger & miso butter)

Or just freestyle - there are no rules except you have to have it with with our ‘Viñero’ Chardonnay

Serves: 6
Cook time:  30min bench/stove + 65min oven

1.4kg organic, free-range chicken

(or if you prefer, this works just as well with half a pumpkin - also a great friend of Chardonnay)
2 cups basmati rice
125g salted butter
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves
1-2 tbsp herb or spice of your choice (see above)
4 cups chicken stock
300g cherry tomatoes (or 1/2 that plus 200g veg of your choice)
1 fresh bay leaf
1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C fan-forced and dry chicken well with paper towel, then season all over and place in a large bowl.

2. Melt the butter in a tagine dish (or baking tray) over a medium heat. Add the chicken, breast-side down, and sear for about 5 minutes to brown, then rotate the bird to sear it on all sides.

3. While the chicken is browning, finely slice the onion and garlic, and once browned place the bird back in large bowl. Add the onion, garlic and herb or spice to the pan and cook until softened/lightly coloured, about 5 minutes. Don’t allow the pan to get too hot or the butter will burn.

4. Once the onion and garlic are a little golden, pour over the chicken in the bowl, spooning any remaining butter over the chicken until the skin is well covered.

5. Add rice, tomato/vegetable and stock to your tagine or baking tray and put back on the heat until simmering.

6. Squeeze the lemon’s juice into the rice, then add the squeezed lemon and the bay leaf into the cavity of the chicken and place it on top of the rice, scattering the onion mix on around the chicken on top of the rice.

7. Cover with lid of tagine or with baking paper then foil if using a tray, and roast for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for a further 25 minutes, until golden.

8. Rest the chicken for 5-10 minutes then use kitchen scissors to chop through the wing, thigh joints and breasts so that the rice catches all the chicken juices. The rice is pretty rich so serve with a leafy salad and/or steamed vegetables.