I always thought that lentils were a substitute for meat but I have a new appreciation for lentils and now see that they can accompany meat very happily. The simplest way to bring roast chicken and lentils together is inspired by a Nigella Lawson recipe. Roast the chicken and then tip in a tin of drained Puy lentils into the cooking juices along with some parsley and stir. Serve with a green salad and it is a complete meal which is incredibly tasty.
This lentil recipe has slightly more steps to it but very worthwhile but the true star is the roast chicken. I bought a copy of the Zuni Cafe Cookbook last year and have taken on their method, more or less, for roasting a chicken. It is simple, quick and turns out delicious roast chicken every time. Crisp, bronzed skin and succulent meat. Levi is mad for roast chicken and I don’t really blame him. This is a fantastic roast chicken.
The trick is to prepare the chicken at least one day before you plan to roast it. Clean it, dry it and sprinkle it liberally with sea salt then cover loosely and leave in the fridge. There has been more then one occasion when I haven’t been organised but I still get pretty good results. Just be sure that the chicken is completely dry and generously salted.
roast chicken with lentils
1.5kg free range chicken
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage (I used marjoram)
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
250g Puy lentils, rinsed and drained
1 litre cold water
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 spring onion
a small handful of parsley
a small handful of mint
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Rinse and dry the chicken with a paper towel inside and out. Push your fingers in between the skin on the chicken breasts and make 2 pockets. Make a pocket on the outside of the thickest part of each thigh. Push a herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.
Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper (roughly a 3/4 teaspoon sea salt per 500g of chicken). Cover loosely and pop in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C. Put a shallow roasting pan in to preheat. I use a cast iron frying pan which works brilliantly. Wipe the chicken dry and place breast down in the pan. Roast for 20 minutes then turn the chicken over, breast side up. Roast for a further 30 – 40 minutes until cooked. To test, pop a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh and the juices will run clear if cooked. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes.
In a large saucepan place the lentils, cold water, onions, garlic and bay leaves. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes, until cooked.
Halve the tomatoes, de-seed and finely chop. Tip into a salad bowl with finely sliced spring onion and finely chopped herbs. Add the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them and add them to the salad bowl. Season with sea salt and pepper and mix to combine. Just before serving, crumble over some feta.