Roasted chicken is the quintessential in-law food, methinks. It is what you make when you have people over you want to impress, and there is no room for failure. Because heaven knows you don’t want to serve the parents of your chosen one tough beef, chewy pork or overcooked fish. Or you might want to, but then good sense kicks in.
I made chicken for my man’s parents when they came over for dinner for the first time. Bought a free-range one, rubbed it with olive oil and roasted it with a lemon in its belly. Simple and, after a bit of rescue-work by my dad (a white bottom on the chicken but a good broiling took care of that), delicious. I would even consider the rescue work a plus: nothing like kitchen mishap to keep conversation flowing.
The problem with a perfectly roasted chicken, however, is that it might be remembered. Which is fine, great even, but making people the same thing for dinner on two successive occasions takes away some of wow-factor. So, a twist on the original is always useful- a chicken make-over, if you will. And even though a perfectly roasted chicken certainly isn’t a “Before” to spit at, Nigella Lawson’s Super-Juicy Chicken is a worthy “After”.
The recipe is easy: you mix buttermilk with garlic, soy sauce and mustard and soak the chicken in the mixture for eight hours in a cool (but not cold) place. Then you pat it dry, coat it with a bit of melted butter and olive oil and bake it in a hot oven. What you get is seriously juicy chicken and seriously impressed guests. So go on, give your mother-in-law a ring. You know she’ll appreciate the invite.
From Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat (text adapted)
1 l buttermilk
10 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp soy sauce
16 meaty pieces of chicken
3 tbsp butter, melted
3 tbsp olive oil
Mix the buttermilk with the garlic, mustard and soy sauce. Dunk in the chicken pieces and turn them over a few times so they are covered in the marinade on all sides. Divide the chicken over two large plastic bags, add half of the marinade to each and place them in a cool cupboard for eight hours (longer if you put them in the fridge because the cold will slow the flavoring process).
Preheat oven to 210 C. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with kitchen towels. Place the pieces on two baking sheets (greased or covered with a baking mat), skin-side up. Mix the butter and the olive oil, add some salt and pepper and brush the chicken with the mixture. Bake pieces until done (Nigella suggests 30-40 minutes for legs and 20-25 minutes for breast meat).