When is summer going to arrive? It’s June and I’ve been having to put the heating on for a bit of warmth for feck sake! Recently it feels like every time I look out the window it is either raining or threatening to rain. This just won’t do, so if summer doesn’t want to make an appearance, then I’ll make summer happen myself.
For me nothing encapsulates summer more than a roast chicken spiked with loads of herbs and tangy lemon and a couple of salads – a potato salad dressed with a homemade garlic mayonnaise and a warm salad of broad beans, peas and feta cheese. Broad beans are one of my favourite vegetables, they’re in season at the moment and there is something so satisfying about picking them out of their furry lined pods.
The ingredients for this dinner are fresh, zesty, light and just the kind of meal that should be eaten ‘al fresco’, with your favourite people as company, summer tunes in the background and a bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc.
1 free range chicken, medium size
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
4 bushy sprigs of lemon thyme, finely chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
For the potato salad dressed with homemade garlic mayonnaise
500g waxy salad potatoes such as the Charlotte variety
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
A bunch of chives, finely chopped
1tsp of salt
1 large free range egg yolk
1tsp Dijon mustard
About 1 pint of light olive oil
Lemon juice to taste
Salt and pepper
For the broad bean, pea and feta salad
1kg of unpodded broad beans
500g of peas
200g of feta cheese, crumbled
Half a tsp of chilli flakes
Juice from 1 lemon
A handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Extra Virgin olive oil
I bought a good free range chicken from the butcher, took the backbone out of it, butterflied, so that’s it’s flat, then I cut some deep scores into the breasts and legs, then rubbed in chopped rosemary, lemon thyme, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil. Make sure to get all the ingredients pushed right into the scores in the flesh to ensure all those flavours are going to penetrate into the flesh of the chicken. I left that to marinade for a few hours to let the flavours get to know each other.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then put into an oven proof dish, into the oven at 180 degrees C for 1 hour 20 minutes. When the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest, covered with tin foil for 10 minutes. If the weather was permitting this chicken would be great cooked on a bar-be-cue, as the smokey charred flavour would really add to the taste of the chicken and as you’ve butterflied the chicken it will cook more evenly.
For the potato salad make the mayonnaise first. This recipe will give you enough to dress the potatoes and to offer as a dip for the chicken. Finely chop the garlic and mix with the salt. Sit a bowl on a tea cloth and whisk the egg yolk and mustard together. Then slowly, drip the olive oil in, then add a bit more until you’re adding a constant stream, but not too fast, whisking constantly. Once you’ve added all of the oil, add in the garlic and salt, lemon juice, chopped chives and pepper.
Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 12 minutes, drain and allow to cool until you can handle them. Chop them into thick discs and put into a bowl. Add enough of the homemade mayonnaise to generously coat the potatoes.
For the broad bean, pea and feta salad, I just steam the broad beans in their pods for about 8 minutes, then I pick them out. Put into a bowl. Boil you peas for 5 minutes, I use frozen. Drain then add to the bowl with the broad beans. Add the crumbled feta to the peas and broad beans, then add salt and chilli flakes, the juice from one lemon, the copped parsley and a good glug of the best Extra Virgin Olive Oil you can buy. Mix it all together, check the seasoning and it’s ready to serve.