I do love a traditional British Sunday roast. Who doesn’t? The roast potatoes are a particular favourite. Until I came to the UK I’d never had anything like it. The crisp surface and the surprising fluffiness inside, and so flavourful – if anyone, the British have managed to elevate the humble potato to a foodstuff worthy of a gourmet.
I’ve been thinking whether the Danish have a Sunday meal equivalent to the Great British roast. We don’t, really. I mean, we don’t have a special meal designated for the weekend. But one of my all-time favourite meals, cooked by my mother and grandmother alike, is something rather special – something that requires extra time and labour of love and therefore is unlikely to be served during the week.
Perfect roast chicken, tender boiled potatoes, gravy, rhubarb compote, pickled cucumber and salad. Takes me right back. Memories! I suppose this qualifies the meal as comfort food. Yes, this is my comfort food, along with some of my mother’s and grandmother’s other delicious fare.
And this is not just about me being sentimental; this tastes absolutely phenomenal. It’s all in the side dishes which go so perfectly well with the roast chicken. Sweet-sour rhubarb and crunchy vinegary cucumber. Mmh-mmh. If I could only sink my teeth into that right now…
1 large free-range chicken
30-50 g butter
2-3 cloves of garlic
one bunch of parsley
a kilo small, new potatoes
for the gravy:
30 g butter
2-3 tablespoons plain flour
any juices from the chicken
chicken or beef stock
1 teaspoon browning sauce
corn flour (if needed)
for the salad:
half a head of lettuce
50 ml single cream
a squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper
for the pickled cucumber:
1 large cucumber
50 ml vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
freshly ground pepper
1. Prepare the rhubarb compote.
2. Prepare the cucumber pickle: slice cucumber as thinly as you can and put in a bowl with coarse sea salt. After about 20 minutes wash the salt off of the cucumber and wring them dry. In a saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, pepper and a couple tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, then leave to cool. Mix with slices of cucumber and let it sit in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving.
3. Now on to the chicken. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Rinse the chicken thoroughly inside-out and pat dry with kitchen towel. Put in a buttered roasting tin and smear the chicken with butter all over. Cut a garlic clove in half and rub it on the skin of the chicken. Season with salt and pepper (remember the cavity, too), and stuff the cavity with parsley. Roast in the oven for about an hour.
4. Meanwhile, scrub the potatoes and put them in a saucepan with plenty of salted water. Boil for about 20 minutes (depending on size), then pour out the water and leave the potatoes to steam in the pan with the lid on.
5. Wash and tear the lettuce leaves. Mix the ingredients for the salad dressing and toss with the lettuce.
6. Finally, make the gravy: Melt the butter in a saucepan and gradually add flour, whisking ferociously until the butter has ‘soaked up’ all the flour it can take and looks like dough. Now add the juices from the chicken, still whisking wildly to tease out any lumps. Gradually add stock and whisk as the gravy boils and thickens. Add drops of browning sauce until you are happy with the look of the gravy, then check the consistency: if it is too runny, you can add a few teaspoons of courn flour mixed with water. Season to taste.
7. Carve the chicken in four parts and serve with potatoes, gravy, lettuce, pickled cucumber and rhubarb compote. Tuck in! (I’m so jealous of you right now…)