Taking roast chicken to the next level

I got a bee in my bonnet last week and decided to try my hand at roasting a chicken in a potjie (or Dutch oven). We have been trying some new things in our potjie of late, yet at the suggestion my husband had that look: I am humouring you just a tad, we may need takeaways but I can see that crazy look so let’s go with the flow.

There was one significant downside of this experience: I doubt that oven-roasted chicken will EVER live up to this one. Ever. Period.

Here’s what you have to do for a life-changing, taste-bud tingling and poultry-worshipping experience…You will need one onion chopped, a pack of streaky bacon slithered or diced, about 4 potatoes (depends on crowd) peeled and cut into about 3cm pieces, one free range chicken, a sploosh of olive oil, salt and pepper and a bunch of chopped fresh herbs. For the herbs, I picked a handful from our garden, so use what you have. I had (prepare your singing voice) parsley, sage, rosemary and thyyyyyyyme (and oregano).

Once your coals are ready, warm up the pot and in goes the generous sploosh of olive oil. Season your chook with salt and pepper and then brown until there is a bit of colour on both sides, set aside. Next fry off your onions until soft, add bacon and herbs. After a couple of minutes, add the potatoes and give a good stir. Then gently lay the chicken on top of the ingredients, breast side down and place the lid on. Keep an eye on the heat so it does not over-bubble. About 55 to 60 minutes later, you are done.

Words can never quite describe the finger-licking deliciousness. What I can tell you is the surprise we had that so few ingredients – absolute simplicity – could yield such ‘smack you in the face flavour’. The potatoes literally cook in the chicken, onion and bacon juices. All the goodness of those simple ingredients was captured. Somehow, the drying out oven roast does not seem quite right anymore. A great lesson in life, that simplicity done well can far outshine fiddly fanciness.

Give it a try and let me know if you agree!

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