Roast chicken with a vegetable gratin

Since I have been eating hotel food all week, plus a takeaway pizza on Friday, I wanted to cook something myself on Saturday night and roast chicken with lovely crisp golden skin was exactly the right thing.

The chicken was a free-range one from my favourite butcher, Murray’s of Gloucester Rd and I simply roasted it in olive oil, sprinkled with Herbes de Provence, sea salt and black pepper.

I always start my chicken off breast upwards, then I turn it over so the back i.e. the underneath gets properly cooked and then finish it off breast upwards. That way, it seems to stay moist because the juices in the body cavity get a chance to soak back into the breast meat.

The gratin was made from cubed aubergine and courgette, cooked with onions, garlic and chopped fresh tomatoes in olive oil and with some tomato purée added to make the tomato flavour deeper.

When the vegetables were soft and nicely cooked down, I topped the dish off with some béchamel sauce and grated Parmesan cheese and finished it off in the oven so that the dish was properly gratinated.

This didn’t really need any potatoes or rice because we had a nice chewy “tradition” baguette from Joe’s Bakery, also on Gloucester Rd, although some plain rice would have been a nice addition for a cold day or if extra carbs were wanted.

We drank a red Bordeaux with this a 2005 Chateau Les Ragottes, a AOC Bordeaux from near Pellegrue in the Entre-Deux-Mers. I can’t remember where we got this from, possibly Laithwaites but they don’t seem to list it now, but it was pretty much about right, nicely matured and with a good balance of fruit and oak. It was a predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon wine, I think, with the bramble fruits that you would expect and enough depth to help the wine stand up to the rich gratin.

I remember drinking this a couple of years ago and being a bit disappointed but the extra bottle age certainly helped bring out the quality of the wine.

I wish I had a few more bottles left.


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