Christmas before last, Joe’s grandmother gave us a Portable Bench Top Convection Oven (PCO). As we are quite concious about our power consumption, we choose to use the PCO over the (non convection / non fan forced) stove oven more often than not. It has been one of the best presents we have gotten, and is in line with our “footprint reduction” targets. I’ve cooked all manner of things in there, but despite the awesome roast picture on the box, have never been able to make a good roast dinner in it. The vegetables often dry out, don’t cook evenly or are under cooked and the meat is usually falling off the bone, making it difficult to serve. I’ve searched the interwebs on several occasions for a good PCO recipe for the perfect roast without success. Through several attempts of trial and error, I finally nailed it! Here is my take on a perfect roast.
1 free ranged chicken (We used a size 18 today, but generally use a much smaller size, perhaps a 12)
2 large potatoes
½ butternut pumpkin
½ large sweet potato
salt, pepper, parsley
- Place a good 200mls of water in the bottom of the PCO. This will create a bit of moisture during the cooking phase to stop the chicken from drying out. Put a wired rack into the bottom, ensuring the water doesn’t come up as high as the rack.
- Dress the chicken by removing any excess fat and skin around the neck. Score the mango and use the diced flesh from one mango cheek to stuff between the flesh of the breast and the skin. Place the dressed chicken onto the centre of the rack. Retain the rest of the mango and the seed until later.
- Cut the vegetables into quite large chunks. Place them haphazardly around the chicken as seen in the photo above. Make sure there is still sufficient room to allow for air flow.
- Put the lid onto the PCO and set the temperature to 200°C and the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer sounds, rotate the vegetables to ensure that the vegetables at the bottom have a chance to brown by being closer to the top. Use the retained mango seed (or cheek flesh if you haven’t used it in a stuffing – see note below) to squeeze fresh pulp and juice over the outside of the chicken and drizzle it over the vegetables. Ensure there is enough water still in the bottom of the POC and add another cup if needed. Cook for a further 30 minutes.
- Check that the chicken is ready by pushing a long pronged fork into the breast. If the juices run clear, then it is ready. Remove the chicken from the PCO and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting to serve. Serve with the roasted vegetables for a delicious meal!
- I ran out of breadcrumbs today, and couldn’t stuff the chicken as I normally would do. Stuffing is easy to make, and if you have the ingredients on hand, it would be an awesome addition to this meal. To make a stuffing for this dish, I would combine 1-2 cups of bread crumbs, the flesh from the remaining mango cheek, salt, pepper, parsley, sage, rosemary and a little garlic to make a firm stuffing mixture. I would also be tempted to add some dried cranberries or some nut – possibly hazelnut. Be careful with the herbs; you still want the sweetness of the mango to be evident.
- The size of the vegetables seems to be important in the cooking process. Don’t be tempted to cut the vegetables smaller, as this will cause them to dry out fast. Use the photo above as a guide, keeping in mind that this is a size 18 bird!
- It is vital that the water in the bottom of the PCO does not dry out. Once it dries out, or there is insufficient steam, the meat and vegetables will dry out.
- I opted not to make a gravy today, so that we could enjoy the flavours of this dish. I did consider doing a jus for it with the liquids in the bottom of the PCO, and in hindsight, this would have been a good addition. If you find that your chicken is a little dry, this would be a good option.
- If you use a smaller bird, you may need to finish the vegetables while the bird rests. As a rule of thumb, check the bird every 15 minutes to ensure it isn’t drying out / over cooking.
- Id like to apologise for not having a “completed” picture for this dish… we kinda got distracted and devoured it before any of us realised I had missed the photo.
- Diabetics Note: I added some potato and sweet potato for carb content to this meal, but it wasnt enough to lift it to 3 exchanges. The addition of stuffing would possibly be enough to meet the carb requirement for this dish.
- In our household, we only ever consumer free ranged chicken. I wont use this post to educate about the evils of mass produced caged birds, however, I highly recommend doing your homework on this topic and remember; you are what you eat. Free ranged chicken is definitely a more expensive option when compared to the mass produced caged birds that are mostly available, however, we have combated this expense by eating chicken a little less often. This choice was not only a healthier option for us, but it was also much better on our ethical conciousness. The ethical debate aside, free ranged chicken tastes SO MUCH better than any other available poultry option!