Roast chicken, with crisp, salty skin and steaming flesh is the ultimate in comfort food. Plonked down on the table next to a cold glass of white wine, (oh go on, have the bottle) attacked with a knife then pulled apart by hungry fingers. Add to this a big pan of hot, spiced chickpeas and you have the perfect warming dish to ward away chills brought on by the ‘summer’ of 2012. Chop the chicken into chunks and put the pan of hummus on the table so that everyone can just help themselves.
For the chicken
1 medium chicken (about 1.6kg/3.5lb)
5 cloves garlic, halved
3 tbsp water
For the hummus
400g tin chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp tahini
3 tsp ground coriander
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of chopped coriander or parsley
(half pint of vegetable stock to hand – as required – Marigold Vegetable Bouillon is a good brand)
Cut one of the lemons into chunks and stuff into the cavity of the chicken with the five garlic cloves. Rub the skin with olive oil (top and bottom), season well with salt and put into a roasting tin. Cut the remaining lemon in half and tuck one half in next to the chicken. Roast for about one and a half hours, basting every 20 minutes or so. Whack up the heat for the last 20 minutes (220C) to help crisp up the skin. If you’re feeding a bigger hoard and your chicken is a plus-sized bird you can work out how long to cook it for by using the rule of thumb, about 20 minutes per pound and 20 minutes extra.
To make the hummus, fry the onions, coriander and garlic until the onions are soft and just starting to brown. Add the whole tin of chickpeas, including the liquid and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. You want the mixture to maintain a shiny sloppiness and not dry out completely, so if it looks like doing so add a couple of tablespoons of the vegetable stock (a good bought one is Marigold Vegetable Bouillon). Add the tahini and the lemon juice and gently mash so that the chickpeas break but some of them retain their shape and texture. Take off the heat and leave this to one side until you are ready to serve, at which time sprinkle over the fresh coriander or parsley.
Once cooked, remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Whilst the chicken is resting, squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon into the roasting dish with the water and stir, scrapping up the sticky remnants from the bottom of the pan. This will make a small amount of intense lemony gravy. Chop the chicken into finger sized pieces, a thigh, a drumstick, a highly prized wing. Pull out the breasts whole and then cut them in half. Put everything on the table for people to help themselves. Once everyone has filled their plates, hand round the gravy, spooning a little over the hummus and a little over the chicken, it won’t require more.