Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Cider Can Chicken with roasted onions – undignified, but delicious!

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On the booze - literally!
If you are a fan of roast chicken but haven’t yet tried this method, you are in for a real treat.

It is probably one of the most undignified ways of cooking a chicken but it’s a stunner - and perfect in the oven or on the BBQ.  As the cider evaporates, fragrant steam permeates the flesh, keeping it juicy and flavouring it with garlic and whatever herbs you decide to use. I’ve used thyme today but rosemary is good too. Any cider that is left in the can after roasting gets tipped into the roasting tin to blend with the chicken juices for a lazy gravy. Couldn’t be simpler.  

Cider seems only to come in cans of 500mls. Decant the cider into a clean empty 330ml soda or beer can for this dish as they are the ideal size.

To feed four, you will need…
… to preheat the oven to 180˚C (see BBQ note at the end)

100mls of cider
a generous bunch of fresh thyme (or about 6 sprigs of rosemary)
4 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 x 1.5kg oven-ready chicken (free-range if your budget allows)
1 teaspoon sea salt
25g butter, melted and cooled
3 onions, peeled, keeping as much of the root intact as possible.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of salt

1.                  First, make sure the oven shelves are arranged to accommodate a chicken being cooked upright. Using a tin opener, cut the top off a 330ml aluminium beverage can. Handle with care – the cut edge can be very sharp. Pour the cider into the can. Add the sliced garlic and some of the fresh thyme. Place the can in a roasting dish.
2.                  Rub the chicken with the salt, and anoint with the melted butter. Keeping the can upright, insert it into the cavity of the chicken. Use the chicken legs to help balance it upright in the roasting tin. Poke any remaining thyme into the neck of the chicken.

Reminds me of Killiney Beach - brrrrrr
3.                  Place in the preheated oven and roast for an hour (or until cooked through - pierce the thickest part of the thigh and if the juices run clear you are good to go.)
4.                  To prepare the onions, cut each into 6 wedges making sure each wedge has a little bit of root – this helps keep them intact while cooking. Toss them in the olive oil and sprinkle with the pinch of salt. When the chicken has been cooking for half an hour, add the onion wedges to the roasting tin.
5.                  After the cooking time has elapsed, carefully remove the chicken from the oven and cut the skin between the leg joint and the body. If it is still pink, return the chicken to the oven for a further 15 minutes, or until there is no pink remaining.
6.                  Lay the chicken on its back so that any remaining cider spills into the roasting dish and mingles with the chicken juices. Carefully spoon or pour off the liquid into a small saucepan. Cover the chicken and let it ‘relax’ in a warm place for about 10 minutes. This ‘relaxing’ allows the juices which have boiled up to the surface of the meat to redistribute themselves, resulting in a more tender, succulent bird.
7.                  While the chicken is relaxing, gently simmer the saucepan of cider and chicken juices to concentrate the flavour. Transfer to a gravy boat just before serving.

Note: you could substitute beer or white wine for the cider. You could use chicken stock or unsweetened apple juice if you prefer an alcohol-free version.

To BBQ - Prepare the cider can as in step 1. Remove any excess fat from the chicken.  Prepare as in step 2 above but omit the butter and then carefully place the chicken upright on the BBQ and close the lid, taking care not to tip the bird over. Cook for about an hour or until cooked through (as in step 3), checking regularly to make sure it is not burning. Remove very carefully, remembering that there could still be boiling liquid in the cider can, and allow to rest in a warm place before serving.
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