I can't believe it's actaully taken me around 3 months to do. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong during the process has gone wrong. You can't really plan for them to happen either because for me it was a trial and error sort situation. I had never done anything like before, so I didn't know what to expect. I guess it will make it easier when I go to renovate my bathroom next!
So onto cooking. I'm trying to keep dinners simple these days. One main dish, usually a protein, and one good side dish, sometimes a third but keeping that really simple. It makes life a little easier if you can go to the shops and have a plan of only buying a couple of key ingredients. I shop as I need as opposed to doing a big weekly shop, so it gives me more flexibility to eat what I'm in the mood for.
The other day I spent the day on the couch with a sore neck, so I watched a whole heap of recorded episodes of French Food Safari. I've never really been into French food, I think it took a bit of research to realise it has the same concepts as Italian cooking - simple, rustic dishes with a heap of flavour, simple ingredients, and different from town to town. I like this idea, and have started really enjoying French food. After watching about 5 episodes, I had a craving for roast chicken and lentils. I went to the shops, picked up a couple of ingredients and made this.
Serves 4 - 6
LEMON, MUSTARD AND THYME ROAST CHICKEN
1.6 - 1.8 kg whole free range chicken
1 tablespoon French mustard
1 lemon, cut into quarters
3 garlic cloves
8 sprigs of thyme
Preheat the oven to 200C. Rinse the chicken with water to wash, then pat dry. Place the chicken on a roasting tray lined with baking paper. Rub the mustard all over the chicken, the sprinkle with salt and pepper. Squeeze half the lemon juice over the chicken and stuff the lemon pieces (including the half squeezed) along with the garlic and half the thyme into the cavity of the bird. Sprinkle the rest of the thyme over the top of the chicken, along with a good slug of olive oil. Place the chicken in the oven and drop the temperature to 160C. Cook for 1 1/2 hours. To check if the chicken is cooked, place a skewer into the breast, and when removed clear juices should run out. You can also test with a thermometre - the breast should be 75C.
Remove the chicken from the oven, cover with foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
FRENCH STYLE LENTILS
1 cup French lentils
3 cups of water
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
4 button mushrooms, finely diced
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Few springs of thyme
Cook the lentils according to the packet instructions (or 1 cup of lentils, 3 cups of water, bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minute or until cooked through). Strain.
In a large pan, fry off the carrot, celery, mushrooms, shallots, garlic and thyme in a good slug of olive oil. When carrots and celery and soft but still have a little bite, turn the heat off, add the lentils, a couple of pinches of salt, another slug of olive oil and a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar. Mix well and taste - you may need more salt, oil or vinegar.
Serve with roast chicken.