My boys love watching Jamie Oliver cooks on TV. That includes their Dad. I think it’s a great consolation to know that he is not the only one who makes it look like a tornado has just touched down in the kitchen every time he cooks. Even a celebrity chef shares the same traits.
I called Jamie the ‘messy’ cook and I think it makes my boys love him even more. How often do you get messy and good at the same time. I think for once, they felt like someone stood up for them, that being messy isn’t always a bad thing. Jamie Oliver, the messy cook who makes everything looks delicious.
They love how he uses his bare hands to crush up herbs, squeeze lemons, massage his meat and plate his food. Unpretentious, messy and fun. I have been watching him on and off on TV for a long time now but it was only not too long ago that I got passed his messy way of preparing food to start appreciating his culinary skills. He really makes cooking and plating looks like messy art, fun and inspirational.
I started following him after seeing him on TV, on how he raided American school canteen to bring healthier lunch to the kids. My boys were attending schools in America then and school lunch made up a big part of school. School hours were long, from 7 plus in the morning till 3 plus in the afternoon. They could pre-order lunch from school or pack their own food. My boys preferred the latter.
The school had a microwave in the canteen and the students were allowed to use it to heat up their lunch. The standard food served in school were fish fingers, chicken nuggets, cold sandwiches or some kind of biscuits, chips or crackers. My boys were known for their hot lunches. They were the Chinese dudes who made the canteen smell good (or bad). Their friends and teachers were always curious about the food they were eating (even more so if they used their chopsticks!), usually some rice with stir fried dishes we had the night before. They must thought my boys were weird to be eating such weird stuff for lunch.
My boys learned about eating REAL food. They learned that anything that comes in a box, tin, bag or bottle were usually not good for them. Food that sits on the supermarket shelves are food that has had something done to it to make it more convenient and ready to eat. Food engineers from the chemical industry are the ‘chefs’ for these food. If you take a closer look at the giant supermarts in the US, there were only a few aisles that sell fresh food or real food!
So I was excited to learned about Jamie’s attempt to reform school lunch programs, to help fight obesity and change eating habits. Such habits start from young and such knowledge needs to be taught to our children.
So the first recipe I took from Jamie’s website was how to roast a chicken!
Not a great deal huh. But it was a breakthrough for someone whose cooking didn’t go beyond your typical Asian style of braising, stewing, steaming and stir frying. I was always worried that the roasted chicken will turn out either too dry or not cooked. It is so much easier to buy a ready cooked one!
The first time I cooked this was 2 Christmas ago and I have lost count of the number of times I have used this recipes. It is one of our favourite one pot meal these days. On days when I am too lazy to cook, I would season the chicken, throw in some hardy vegetables, dump everything into the oven and set it to Auto. I could bring the kids for a swim or go for a run and dinner will still be ready on time. It’s a life saver.
Here’s the recipe adapted from Jamie’s site.
- 1 whole chicken
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 potatoes
- 1 large lemon
- 1 whole bulb garlic , broken into cloves
- 1 handful fresh thyme
- olive oil
- 1 handful fresh rosemary sprigs
- Preheat your oven to 190ºC.
- Rub the chicken inside and out with a generous amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cut the potatoes into small chunks, put them into the water with the whole lemon and the garlic cloves, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Drain and allow to steam dry for 1 minute (this will give you crispier potatoes), then remove the lemon and garlic.
- While the lemon is still hot, carefully stab it about 10 times.
- Pat the chicken with kitchen paper and rub it all over with olive oil.
- Push the garlic cloves, the whole lemon, rosemary and the thyme into the cavity, then put the chicken into a roasting tray and cook in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes.
- Remove the chicken to a plate. Toss the potatoes in the tray with the juice and rosemary leaves. Shake the tray around, then make a gap in the centre of the potatoes and put the chicken back in.
- Cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are nice and golden. (You can tell the chicken is cooked when the thigh meat pulls easily away from the bone and the juices run clear.)