Claire, has cooked all her life in one form or another and now a mother of three, she is on a mission to ‘inspire and invigorate the concept of family cookery’. Her recipe book ‘The 5 O’Clock Apron’ is set to do just that. I must admit, I do love cooking but only when the pressure is off. Concocting dishes out of days old veg and lentils is probably what I am best at. But for my kids, well, I tend to do the same old routine, Spag bol, fish fingers and chips, pizza and jacket potato with tuna mayo. BORING!
Desperately I needed help, a new family ‘favourite’ and something that my fussy eldest would wolf down, without stopping to look for onions!. I needed Claire’s help.
So there we were, Cathy, Laura, Eli (Laura’s littlest), and I, sat in the sunshine being entertained by Claire’s two year old daughter – Dot. Claire had made us the most delicious of feasts, and as we tucked in Dot charmed us with her chat. We ate panzella salad, slow cooked cauliflower, lentils, mozzarella cheese, olives and more… washed down with Rhubarb cordial. It was delicious!!
Sitting there eating with old friends and new, we talked about everything, as you should when dining with friends. It was a perfect afternoon.
On returning home, I vowed to get my ‘cook on’, and provide proper food for my kids. So yesterday I cooked Claire’s recipe of ‘Whole Chicken roasted over rice with cinnamon’ for our supper – needless to say they ate the lot – onions and all. Well done boys and thank you Claire!
Whole Chicken roasted over rice with cinnamon
- 250g basmati rice
- 1.5kg whole chicken
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cinnamon stick (broken in half)
- 10 cardamon pods
- 2 whole allspice
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 onions, diced
- 500ml of hot chicken stock or boiling water
- 1 lemon cut into wedges to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180c / gas mark 4
- Soak the rice in a bowl of cold water while you prepare the chicken.
- Rub the chicken with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a heaped teaspoon of salt and half the ground cinnamon. Put half the whole spices, 2 bay leaves and an extra pinch of salt into the chicken cavity.
- Heat a large deep heavy-bottomed casserole pan (big enough to take the whole chicken and a with a tight fitting lid – though you can use foil if necessary) over a moderate heat and pour in the remaining olive oil. Add the chicken breast side up.
- Put the casserole, un-lidded for the time being, into the hot oven and roast for 20 minutes per 500g.
- Meanwhile remove the husks from the rest of the cardamoms and grind the seeds with the remaining allspice, leaving the remaining half of the cinnamon stick whole.
- Drain the rice and take the pan from the oven and transfer the chicken to a plate. Leave the oven on. (do this after the chicken has only 30 minutes left to go)
- Put the pan on a low heat and add the diced onions with the rest of the spices and the remaining bay leaves. Add a pinch of salt and cook the onions in the cinnamony chicken fat and the olive oil, stirring often, until soft and sweet, 8-10 minutes.
- Add the well-drained rice, to the onion mix and stir well.
- Make a well in the middle of the rice mixture and put the chicken into it. Add the hot stock or water. Bring to a simmer, then return the pan to the oven with the lid on. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice and chicken are cooked (the juices should run clear).
- Remove from the oven and allow the dish to rest for 10 minutes with the lid on – I place a clean tea towel between the lid and the chicken when resting, to absorb any excess moisture in the rice.
- Serve with wedges of lemon to squish at the table, and give the rice and chicken a final seasoning with salt and generous grinding of pepper.
(recipe by Claire Thomson)
This is our new family favourite!
All images by Mike Lusmore Photography
Claire is kindly offering one Littlegreenshed reader a copy of her brilliant book – The Five O’Clock Apron – just fill in the widget below… good luck!
Lou Archell, a writer, photographer, stylist and founder of Littlegreenshed. A UK lifestyle & travel blog
Lou is also a busy mum of two amazing boys and the founder of Sisterhood Camp – an annual creative retreat for recharging and empowering brilliant ladies, Lou is passionate about supporting and inspiring others whether through her workshops, writing, photography or lifestyle hacks.