The first time I met my boyfriend’s sister we were invited over for lunch and she and her husband served a lovely roast chicken, a big salad, a large bowl of chips and lots of condiments. It was so effortless but so delicious and that was definitely my inspiration here!
This was actually our supper on Valentine’s Day as it fell on a Monday this year, and I knew I would be tired after a busy work day. But I thought an easy roast chicken, chips and a nice salad was the perfect balance of delicious but low effort in the kitchen. Especially since we had a starter and pudding too, although also of the effortless variety. But I did make a batch of homemade mayonnaise to go with it, because homemade mayonnaise and any storebought variety (even Hellmann’s which I love!) are miles apart. The homemade version is a lot runnier, silkier and doesn’t have that eggy smell to it. I was absolutely inspired by a recent dinner at Bibendum Oyster Bar where I had the Pierre Koffmann fries (they were excellent!!) and homemade mayonnaise and it was definitely the only time I have received a bowl of good mayonnaise to go with my chips in a restaurant. It was so so good and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Granted, Sainsbury’s oven chips where not even half as nice as the Pierre Koffmann fries, but it was still delicious!
Although I often make skin-on oven fries, I sometimes cook chips or fries straight from the freezer and with the addition of some extra oil and a longer cooking time, they come out super crispy and nice. And it saves me cutting a lot of potatoes. I also don’t have a fryer so I’m not even remotely aiming for the perfect fries until I have one in my possession.
The chicken (a small one, I find them juicier) I spatchcocked before cooking, as it both cuts down on cooking time, but it also makes it easier to carve afterwards and gives you a bit more control while cooking as it’s easier to cook it evenly. Before cooking I smothered it with a homemade (very easy to throw together) herb butter and seasoned it well.
Roast chicken, chips and salad with homemade mayonnaise, serves 2
1 small chicken, spatchcocked and trimmed (I cut off excess skin and fat), rinsed and patted dry
50 g softened butter
lemon zest from half a lemon
2 tsp of chopped herbs such as parsley, thyme and rosemary (dried works too)
salt and pepper
2 servings frozen readymade fries
1-2 tbsp mild olive oil
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
125-175 ml neutral oil (such as sunflower, groundnut, warm-pressed rapeseed oil or vegetable oil)
1/2 lemon, juice only
table salt and pepper
a nice green salad
Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Mix the herbs, lemon zest and salt and pepper with the butter in a small bowl.
Place the chicken on a cutting board and make incisions in the skin at the top of the breasts with a small knife. Run your finger underneath the skin to create a pocket over the breasts. Fill these pockets with some of the herb butter, patting it down so it’s flat and covers the breasts. Make small incisions on each leg and cover with butter. Smother the rest of the butter all over the chicken with your hands. Wash hands and season well. Roast the chicken until golden brown and juices runs clear. The cooking time depends on the size of your chicken and your oven, but somewhere between 30-50 minutes.
Add the fries to a roasting tin. Drizzle with oil and season. Stir well with a spoon or spatula so that the fries are evenly coated with oil. Cook at the same time as the chicken until golden brown and crispy. They will cook faster than the chicken, 15-20 minutes, so either put them in later or take them out when ready and re-heat before serving.
Either make the mayonnaise beforehand and cover it or make it while the chicken is roasting. Add the egg yolk, vinegar and mustard to a mixing bowl. Beat to combine with a whisk. Slowly slowly add the oil drop by drop to start with while whisking. Once the sauce is getting thicker, add the oil in a steady trickle instead, while whisking continuously. Add a little lemon juice to loosen if it feels too thick. Season with table salt and pepper and the lemon until you have a delicious mayonnaise.
Once cooked let the chicken rest for 5 minutes on a warm (not hot plate) and a piece of tin foil loosely covering it. (You want the steam to be able to escape so that the chicken skin stays crispy). Don’t wrap the chicken, approach it more like a roof.
Cut the chicken into smaller pieces and serve with the fries, homemade mayonnaise and salad.