So one must face the sad truth: I have killed the cucumber. I don’t think it will survive such severe mutilation and to cap it all, the few bottom leaves left now show distinct signs of powdery mildew. God, the frustration, especially as Pa informs me he could go out and pick oooh about 50 or so right now if he wanted. Once more I am reliant on Ma for her cucumber pickle.
Anyway in other garden news things are much more fruitful. French beans, broad beans, potatoes, salads, chard are all ripe for the picking – and freezing if this bounty continues – and even the surprisingly recalcitrant tomatoes are beginning to redden. So to celebrate – and to buffer against the sudden leaden dullness of the weather – I threw together the simplest, most fabulous roast chicken supper.
First, as the legend has it, unwrap your chicken. I then smeared it thickly in goose fat and added an extra tbsp to the bottom of the tin. Season generously and roast according to your own rules.
Cut floury or waxy potatoes into chip-like shapes and par-boil for 5 minutes then drain and steam for a couple of minutes to help them dry out. Then tip them around the roasting chicken and roast for a good 30 minutes before turning. Because the potatoes will need an extra bit of time to crisp while the chicken rests, I tend to give the chicken 20 mins at 210C, then turn the oven down to 190C and chuck in the potatoes. As it was a small chicken, I gave that 40 mins or so before lifting it out of the tin and leaving it on one side to rest. Then spread the potatoes evenly over the bottom of the tin, whack the oven temp up to 210C again and give the chips another 15 mins or so to really crisp up.
Meanwhile, I quickly boiled a mixture of runner and French beans for 4 mins or so in salted water, drained then added a couple of tbsp double cream, a handful of parsley, a squeeze of lemon and some seasoning. I also tossed together a mixture of lettuce leaves and sorrel in a light dressing of olive oil and white wine vinegar.
Plate up: the trick is to put the salad underneath the creamy beans and/or the chicken so that it slightly wilts in the heat and gets coated in creamy, chicken-y juices. Don’t forget to really season the chips. It did much to salve a soul’s guilt.
PS: Any broad beans you have that are getting a bit too large, simply boil them quickly for 5 mins or so then whiz them – grey pods and all – in a blender with olive oil, lemon juice and mint for an instant green hummus. Play around with garlic and parsley too.