“One-Pot chicken with dates and caramelised lemon” from “nothing fancy”

Kirstin: This week, it’s just the boy and me. Tom is away, travelling. And Tate is at university. So I’ve had to think a bit harder about what I can cook for just the two of us. This looked like a good bet, as I could see I could scale it down. Or indeed up.

As you may all be aware I’m not generally keen on fruit with meat. But I’m trying a little harder than previously. I don’t want to miss out on flavours, you know? Also I trust Alison so if I am going to experiment a little more, then it’s always going to be with her. And then there was the Urfa chile and caramelised lemon which sealed the deal.

I made this earlier on in the day so it could get good and proper yum. And it was totally worth it. The flavours were so very deep with just the right amount of chile, perfect for winter. Miles has already asked for this again later in the week. I may well take him up on his request as he’s having braces fitted and I am happy to do anything to help ease his pain.

“One-Pot chicken with dates and caramelised lemon” from “nothing fancy”

“Citrus Chicken Rested in Herbs” from “Nothing Fancy”

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times (and also, I’m quite sure I’m not the original author of this aphorism): Roast chicken is the Little Black Dress of cooking.

If you have it on a Sunday, it’s the linchpin of your Sunday Roast. If you have it on a weeknight, the meal suddenly becomes more of an event. Also, once you’ve made it a few times, you realise how easy it is, how many variations you can try, and how it’s always delicious. Win. Win. Win.

This version by Alison Roman features citrus and herbs– the clue is in the name, after all. The exciting part comes at the start when you have to cut a chicken in half, which I had never done before. I just imagined myself to be a magician doing it and it made the task even more fun. (It’s actually not that hard; you just need a good knife.)

After marinating the chicken, you roast it, but since it’s already cut in half, the roasting is quicker than with a traditional roast chicken. The marinade is delicious, and, not surprisingly, very citrusy.

My only question was what to do with all the slices of citrus– they’re hard to see in the photo above, but trust me, they’re there– underneath the chicken once it was roasted. Alison wasn’t clear in the recipe. Were we meant to eat them? Were they garnish? Who could say. So we left them.

The chicken was great and the dinner was delicious. The Little Black Dress of the culinary world triumphs again.

“Citrus Chicken Rested in Herbs” from “Nothing Fancy”

“Crushed Peas with Burrata and black olives” from “Nothing fancy”

Kirstin: ALL my friends know how much I have adored the salads from Alison Roman’s first book. I make them ALL THE TIME. The one with melon is just brilliant, so unexpected and so good (you can see a peek of it in this pic). So I was particularly curious to see what was in the salad chapter of this book. And then I saw this little gem. And it is a gem. Because the textures go so well, all the flavours too. It is a delight to make (crushing the peas by hand was a revelation) and even more so to eat. ALSO, for the record, I used two kinds of olives, because the colours.

YUM!

“Crushed Peas with Burrata and black olives” from “Nothing fancy”

“Coconut-braised chicken with chickpeas and lime” from “Nothing Fancy”

Kirstin: Ah, this is amazing. Like #thestew but with chicken too.

Tom: AND GOCHUJANG!

Kirstin: Which is why I made this. Because I know how much you love gochujang.

Tom: I do. I do!

Kirstin: A whole two tablespoons of it, that is! I loved that all the slow cooking with the spices added a real depth to the flavour. And for the record, this only has one can of coconut milk, not two as she recommends. I think that was plenty to be honest.

Tom: And I saw you packing leftovers into the fridge. Was that for lunch tomorrow?

Kirstin: It’s part of my new test for a recipe. How well it warms up the next day. Just kidding. But we had some leftovers and it will be perfect between morning surgery and before I go out to do a home visit at work tomorrow. I tend to get very peckish before doing home visits which makes me hangry. Not a good look when seeing patients. How do you think this compares with the original stew?

Tom: I loved everything about this. I also loved the peanuts as the garnish too. I hope you’re making this again.

Kirstin: I will be. Have no fear!

Postscript.
Kirstin: AND the leftovers were AMAZING!

“Coconut-braised chicken with chickpeas and lime” from “Nothing Fancy”

“Harissa-Rubbed Pork Shoulder with White Beans and Silverbeet” from “Nothing Fancy”

This photo definitely doesn’t do this dish any justice. It was utterly delicious. It was so delicious that although Alison says it should serve six to 10 people, the three of us managed to nearly eat the whole thing. (Though Tim suspects we overate. NEVER!)

One of the things I loved most about this recipe was the perfect Sundayness about it, in that, you pop it in the oven for a few hours while it fills the house with pork-smell-goodness and then, four (or so) hours later, your dinner is done. I also made a pot of rice to go along with it and that became the perfect delivery mechanism for the yummy pan juices. Please note: we may have had more pan juices than normal because I only used one can of beans, not two.

You may wonder, as I did, “What is Silverbeet?” Well, friends, it’s Swiss chard. But we didn’t have any to hand and I was skeptical that I’d find any in our local shops on a Sunday so I looked for substitutions. Cavolo Nero (black cabbage) can be used in place of Swiss chard and since it is Peak Cavolo Nero Season– one of my favourite times of the year– I did have some of that in the refrigerator. So I used that and I’m happy to report it was great.

I definitely will be making this again, though if we’re going to have more people around, maybe I’ll get a bigger cut of meat. Or get better at carving. We’ll see.

“Harissa-Rubbed Pork Shoulder with White Beans and Silverbeet” from “Nothing Fancy”

“Slow-roasted oregano chicken with buttered tomatoes” from “Nothing fancy”

Kirstin: Alison Roman does it again. Takes a simple recipe, like roasting a chicken, and turns it on its head. And we are all left wondering why we didn’t think of it all before. This time she takes tomatoes and adds them to the pan while the chicken roasts. She adds some oregano and also garlic to help make a tasty marmalade. And then here’s the clever bit. Once the chicken is ready, you add the jam to pieces of sourdough toast. It is quite an extraordinary recipe and has already made it into my pantheon of best roast chicken recipes.

“Slow-roasted oregano chicken with buttered tomatoes” from “Nothing fancy”

Cookbook of the month, November 2019, Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman

Kirstin: I stan Alison. So this month’s book was not difficult to choose. I’d preordered it in May!

Maureen: I think everyone is aware of your love for Alison. I love her recipes too. So simple and so tasty. It’s still going to be difficult to follow Diana Henry’s book though. Such a good book!

Kirstin: The UK publishing date was pushed back a week which made me lose sleep but the book is here now. Still not in kindle form too but it’s here.

Maureen: November is all Thanksgiving in our part of the world so lots of meals with lots of people. This book will be a part of that.

Kirstin: Excellent. Let’s just crack on!

Cookbook of the month, November 2019, Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman