Mrs Bailey’s Slow-Roasted Chicken
Occasionally, when she’s staying with her friend during the school holidays, Mrs Bailey will chop some roots and vegetables in the morning, put them in a roasting tray, rub a chicken with salt, pepper and herbes de Provence, set that on top, slide the tray into a low low oven and leave it there until the evening.
Honestly, that’s it. That’s the recipe. When she takes it out, the skin is crisp and herby, the meat is juicy and ridiculously tender, the pan juices are the gravy and the meal is entirely done.
Back at Lowell Crater, she has a class do this at least once a term; in one forty-five minute lesson, they can feed the entire school, feel a wonderful sense of achievement, and carry that simple skill onwards for the rest of their lives.
You too can do it just as Mrs Bailey does; but if you have a slow cooker, you can use that instead of an oven. If you have a slow cooker and a broiler, it’s even better. Like this:
The evening before, rub your chicken with salt and leave it uncovered in the fridge to dry out the skin.
In the morning, chop the vegetables of your choice into bite-size chunks. Any kind of small potato is excellent, of course; carrots, naturally; onions, inevitably. Sliced fennel is great. Peeled golden beetroot. Turnips, parsnips. Rutabaga, which is swede. Radishes, maybe? That other thing, whose name is wholly escaping me today? [I’ll come back to this, I promise.] You just want to cover the bottom of the slow cooker and make a nest for the chicken.
Set the chicken atop and scatter with more salt, pepper and herbes de Provence, or your other choice of flavours. Fennel seed would be good. Or maybe you want to go the other way, try smoked paprika for a change. Or garam masala, and a little turmeric for the veggies. Or ground chipotle, or powdered black garlic if you have that, or… You get the idea. Sprinkle freely.
Set the chicken atop, close the lid, and that’s it. No liquid, no fats. Just the ingredients, and now some heat and time.
Set the slow cooker for eight hours on low, this first time. You may want to adjust that according to your own equipment and preferences, but that long is never going to be wrong.
When it’s done, preheat the broiler in your oven, set the chicken on a tray and slide it under for a few minutes, until the skin is super crisp.
Serve the chicken with the veggies, and the accumulated juices on the side as the world’s simplest gravy.
You can find more of Mrs Bailey’s recipes here: