Sometimes there are not enough hours in the day to cook a whole roast dinner from scratch. All that peeling the veg; all par-boiling the potatoes for roasting; all that mixing the batter for the Yorkshire Puds; all that moulding the stuffing balls. Sometimes – just sometimes – it’s nice to have a Sunday roast without the faff.
And, thus, for the first time I’ve decided to give Aunt Bessie’s Roast Dinner a try. They’re famous for their ready-made Yorkshires, but I didn’t know they also did roast potatoes, roast veg and stuffing. Well I do now.
Unfortunately, they don’t also do a roast chicken, otherwise I’d have given that a try. Still, when it comes to the poultry star of the show, shortcuts should never be taken. And so, to go with our Aunt Bessie’s accompaniments, I’ve cooked up one of my favourite roast chicken recipes: lemony, garlicky, herby, utterly delicious.
Here’s my recipe, to serve 2-4
For the chicken
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, cut into thick rounds
1 x 1.8 kg chicken
Mixed fresh herbs e.g. thyme, parsley and sage
4 garlic cloves, smashed but skin on
Oil for rubbing over chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the accompaniments
10-12 Aunt Bessie’s Duck Fat-based Roast Potatoes
4 Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire Puddings
Bag of Aunt Bessie’s Roasted Veg (carrots, swede, parsnips with a thyme and honey glaze)
4 Aunt Bessie’s Stuffing Balls
For the gravy
1 glass dry white wine
1 tbsp plain flour
500 ml chicken stock
To make the chicken
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Place the onion and carrot on a large baking tray. Snip the tips off the legs with poultry shears or a sharp knife. Reserve for adding to the gravy later.
2. Cut the lemon in half and stuff into the cavity of the chicken with the garlic and herbs. Put the chicken on top of the veg and rub the skin with oil, then season all over with salt and pepper.
3. With your fingers, gently lift the skin away from the breasts and smear the butter under the skin.
4. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 20 mins per 500g plus another 20 mins. A 1.8 kg bird will take 1 hour 30 mins. Baste every 30 mins. Test to see if the chicken is cooked by piercing the flesh at the leg joint with a sharp knife and pressing down gently – if the juices run clear, it’s cooked.
5. Carefully lift the chicken out of the tray and leave to rest for at least 15 mins.
5. Carve by removing the legs from the bird, and then thinly slice across the grain of the breast meat.
To make the gravy
1. Remove the veg from the tin in which you roasted the chicken. Put the tin over a high heat on the hob and add the glass of wine to deglaze the pan.
2. Once the caramelised crispy bits have lifted from the bottom of the pan, sprinkle over the flour and vigorously stir in with a whisk.
3. Gradually add the chicken stock and continue to stir through, then bring to a gentle simmer.
4. Add the reserved chicken leg tips and cook for 10 mins. This make the gravy extra chicken.
5. Once the chicken has rested, pour the lemony juices into the gravy.
To make the Aunt Bessie’s accompaniments
Instructions are on the packets and everything is best cooked from frozen. They have different cooking times and temperatures, but I found I could cook the potatoes and veg on one tray at 180C for 30 mins did the job for both. Then I baked the stuffing balls for 20 mins. Then while I was carving the chicken and plating up and baked the Yorkshire Puddings for 4 mins.
• Of course, nothing can ever be good as start-from-scratch homemade – if you have the time. But if you’re in a rush and you still want to treat your family to a traditional Sunday roast with all the trimmings, Aunt Bessie’s is a good bet. And, yes, I have been paid to say that, for this is a sponsored post (though I would say it anyway – there are no lies in the Recipe Shed).