The decorator had been in all week and we were living in that state of chaos which is slightly too much. Meals on the coffee table (or rather what serves as the coffee table which is actually my old university trunk) eventually lose their appeal. Or rather than losing their appeal, we’d got to the point where you couldn’t even get to the trunk anyway.
I needed to put a chicken in the oven. I desperately needed to put a chicken in the oven.
Chicken dinners have been a cornerstone of my life. Other meals have come and gone, but the good old chicken dinner has remained. It’s not just the oven that warms a home and the souls within it, it’s the constant. I can remember so many chicken dinners from my childhood, taste them, see the gravy as I pour it over. The chicken dinner I made last night was a rather more Italian compromise. One son delights in a chicken dinner, the other pulls a face. Hence the sausage.
It’s my own version of Nigella’s traybake, the one in Nigellissima, her take on Italian food. I say my own version, but this is really dependent on mood. Yesterday I got a packet of about 300g of Italian sausage, four chicken legs and a whole chicken breast. Add three whole cloves of garlic, and they need to be whole because they almost caramelise during the cooking, and if, like me, you love slow roasted garlic, use more. Drizzle with olive oil and lay about five sprigs of lemon thyme or ordinary thyme, whatever you have to hand. Of course the challenge is to manage to cook the chicken breast without it getting dry, so cook the sausages on top, and baste regularly. Then in another pan I put parboiled potatoes and carrots to roast in olive oil with rosemary sprigs. Putting them to roast raw just doesn’t create the right result. They will be roasted, but they won’t be proper roast potatoes, at least not in my book.
The chicken was slightly overdone in the end as I got sidetracked sorting out the bookcases. When you have a houseful of books, it’s a permanent quest. The only solution I ever find that works is to just buy more bookcases. More bookcases mean more books, although I have this fear that one day I will die amidst piles of unread books that, in turn, nobody will ever read.
The leftover chicken will be brought out again today, probably in sandwiches in thick crusty bread, although I have a recipe a friend gave me for some lovely soft milk bread that’s lying around that I might give a try. Baking my own bread is up there with the chicken dinners.
In which case, I really should make some stuffing.