This morning I woke to grey, low-hanging clouds and a light wintery mist. Resisting the urge to roll over and curl up again under the covers I pulled myself up out of bed with hopes of a day of delicious and warming foods. Wintery days call for roasted meats and comforting sides like buttery mash.
Sometimes what appears to be the most complicated is usually the easiest. My Herb Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower, Parsnip Mash and Lemon Caper Gremolata is a dish that highlights simple cookery. Quite simply a beautiful cold-day dish.
4 x chicken marylands, skin on – organic, free range if possible
1 tbsp fennel seeds, roughly chopped
Zest of 2 lemons
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp unsalted butter
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 medium sized parsnips, peeled and chopped into rough cubes
½ onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Organic vegetable stock *to add if the mash is too thick
Pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic
¼ cup capers, if salted then rinsed quickly
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
Rind of half a lemon, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 200C
Prepare a baking tray by lining it with foil. Toss together the cauliflower, parsnip, onion, garlic and olive oil and spread out onto the tray in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pop into the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the veggies begin to caramalise.
Remove from the oven and transfer into a blender or food processor. Add the thyme and blend until it is a smooth but thick consistency – if it is too thick add a little veggie stock to loosen things up. Transfer into a mixing bowl, stir in EVOO and season to taste.
For the chicken, combine the lemon zest, fennel seeds and a generous amount of sea salt and pepper into a small bowl. Using some paper towel, pat dry the chicken skin and then sprinkle with the fennel and lemon salt. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over med-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for approx. 2 minutes or until the skin has turned a beautiful, rich golden colour. Flip over and continue to cook the other side for another 2 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a roasting pan and pop into the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
While the chicken is finishing off in the oven, crack on with the gremolata.
In a small bowl, combine the parsley, garlic, capers, lemon juice, olive oil and zest. Whisk to combine and set aside until its time to serve.
To serve, dollop a generous amount of the mash on a serving plate, top with the chicken and finish with a spoonful or two of the gremolata and a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds.