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Prosciutto and Lemon Roasted Chicken and the Hameau de la Reine

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Prosciutto and Lemon Roasted Chicken and the Hameau de la Reine

Serves: 4
Approx cost: €10
Approx calories (per serving): 300
Approx preparation and cooking time: 100 mins

G reetings everyone, and happy Sunday. Time flies, that’s for sure, and come the end of October it will have been 1 year since I made my first post on FiveEuroFood. I’m not going to reminisce about “my first ever post” right now – I’ll save that sentimental trash for the actual “1 year anniversary” but over the time I’ve been blogging I’ve met some great people – I’ve seen what you do with your own blogs – and for the food bloggers amongst you, I love how you all manage to blend “adventure” with “food” and I was wondering whether perhaps I should try the same thing. There’s nothing wrong with some non-food eye candy every now and again and sometimes I really have things I want to share, but up to now, with a couple of exceptions, I’ve clung onto the theme of “food and food alone” for dear life. I’m not going to change this – every post is still going to have a recipe – but I figured, why not let my blog evolve too. Why not share a few of my experiences with my readers and make my posts more fun to read? So, henceforth, about once a week I’ll be posting a story or two about what I’ve been up to, with a few photos. I’ll put the recipe underneath each time so if you find me tremendously boring you can just scroll down :D

I’ll be tagging each of these posts under “Adventures”, so I can collate them all together later, and so without further ado, I present “Adventure #1″:


The Hameau de la Reine.

I‘m lucky enough to live in a rather convenient location – 10 minutes drive away from Versailles, 20 minutes drive away from Paris – and so I have many opportunities to visit all manner of wonderful places in my spare time. My wife and I actually used to live just a stone’s throw away from the walls of the chateau gardens in Versailles and many a walk was taken here. One of our favourite places to wander around was the area near the “Petit Trianon“, or more specifically the “Hameau de la Reine” (Queen’s Hamlet) – a little village built entirely for Marie Antoinette.

…a rustic retreat in the park of the Château de Versailles built for Marie Antoinette between 1785 and 1792 near the Petit Trianon in the Yvelines, France. Designed by the Queen’s favoured architect, Richard Mique and with the help of the painter Robert Hubert, it contained a meadowland with lakes and streams, a classical Temple of Love on an island with fragrant shrubs and flowers, an octagonal belvedere, with a neighbouring grotto and cascade. There are also various buildings in a rustic or vernacular style, inspired by Norman or Flemish designed, situated around an irregular pond fed by a stream that turned the mill wheel. The building scheme included a farmhouse, (the farm was to produce milk and eggs for the queen), a dairy, a dovecote, a boudoir, a barn, a mill and a tower in the form of a lighthouse. Each building is decorated with a garden, an orchard or a flower garden. The largest of these houses is the “Queen’s House” at the center of the village.

Trip to the Hameau de la Reine

It’s truly a delightful place to wander around in, especially in late autumn/winter when it’s all but deserted. There are myriad little pathways all around the little village to explore, lakes and little rivers to see, small pastures with goats, sheep and potbellied pigs and, in the spring and summer they even fill the gardens with vegetables, to truly recreate the authentic feeling of a “living, breathing village”, as it may well have been like, producing milk, eggs and vegetables for the Queen. I realised however that the appearance is the most important thing here – whoever it is that now cares for the park no long cares about function. We walked past so many plots of land, filled with bell pepper plants, courgettes, cabbages, lettuces, leeks, even small vineyards… just rotting away. They’re planted, carefully tended, and then left to die in the autumn, and then the same cycle is repeated the next year. Sure, they won’t be solving world hunger with the produce but they could give it to a local homeless shelter or similar organisation – the food wastage is just shameful, no matter how pretty it may look.

Trip to the Hameau de la Reine

Despite being overcast we were lucky – the rain held off all day and we enjoyed the opportunity to “escape into the past” so to speak for a few hours. On the way back to the car I was surprised to see that we’re really getting into autumn now, especially having just seen a patch full of sunflowers in the “Hameau” (ok, most of them were dying now, but still). Seeing horse chestnuts on the ground  shocked me a little – it’s something I normally associate with late October, but there they were, shining brightly on the ground. A good reminder that salad season is well and truly gone – time to bring out the apple pies, soups and stews.

Trip to the Hameau de la Reine

So what about this recipe then? As I’ve said in earlier posts, I love cooking whole chickens. If you’re 2 people (or just happen to buy a big chicken and have a larger family), you can easily get 3 meals out of one bird. Eating the breast as the first dinner, usually as part of a roast dinner, I usually like to roll the excess meat in egg and breadcrumbs and fry it later for a delicious home-made alternative to “nuggets”, and then of course you have the carcass. Chicken soup from the carcass is so good compared to when white meat is used. The flavour is so rich and gamey. Best of all, buying a whole chicken can be a frugalist’s dream come true. I actually spent €18 on my chicken because I prefer to buy organic and free-range but if these factors aren’t so important to you then you can buy a chicken for a song – €5 maybe or less and you’ve got meals for days to come!

If you can’t find prosciutto then bacon will serve as well. It will act as a great “shield” to ensure the lemony and bacon/prosciutto taste is roasted into the chicken skin and meat, imparting a great background flavour, and keeping the meat succulent. Enjoy the remainder of your weekend everyone :)

Ingredients

Roast Chicken ingredients

  • 1 Whole Chicken, prepared for roasting
  • 1 pack Prosciutto (~7 slices)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tsps dried Thyme
  • 2 tsps Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Zest from 1 Lemon
  • Juice from 1 Lemon

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to about 140 degrees Celsius, and while it’s warming up, take a fork and stab your chicken all over – Go crazy, the more the better, although obviously don’t completely wreck the thing. Once this is done transfer the chicken to a roasting dish and then mix the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush the chicken all over with the sauce, being sure to get well into any nooks and crannies, next to the legs and wings for example.
    Brushing on the herbs and oil
  2. Separate your slices of prosciutto and lay over the chicken, being sure to cover all parts of the chicken well. Cover roasting dish with aluminium foil and place into the oven.
    Wrapping in prosciutto
  3. After one hour in the oven, remove from the oven and take away the foil. Carefully remove the prosciutto “shell” and return to the oven. Turn up the heat to about 160 degrees Celsius to crisp off the skin and allow to cook for another 30 minutes or so, until golden brown. If you are concerned about if the chicken is cooked or not then you can test it in two ways – either with a meat thermometer – remove the chicken and insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the breast meat (not touching any bones). The temperature should be 85 degrees Celsius for optimum “doneness”. Alternatively, you can cut into the breast meat – the juices that come out should run clear, with no pinkish hue. Serve as desired – I’ve served with roast potatoes, roast carrots, broccoli and gravy, with the prosciutto chopped up on top. You can’t see the chicken so much in the picture but the plate was quite loaded! Enjoy :)
    Prosciutto and Lemon Roasted Chicken

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50 Comments

  1. Hi Charles, something went amiss as I am unable to access the recipe. You and your wife are indeed very fortunate- Hameau de la Rheine looks so picture postcard like. We visited Versailles but did see Hameau de la Rheine! Another good reason for a return visit! As if Paris was not enough.

    Reply
    • Hi Eva – thanks for stopping by. Sorry you couldn't see the recipe, I guess maybe you were viewing from your cellphone? I was using a new mobile theme (which is actually pretty good… very uncluttered) but it doesn't support the "shortcode" tags that I use in my posts (to create the drop-downs, boxes, drop capitals etc) so if there's text contained in a shortcode it just won't show up – rather annoying. I've disabled the mobile theme now until shortcodes are supported in it – you can try again if you like to view the recipe and let me know :)

      Reply
      • Thanks Charles, it's all good now. Yes, I was using my phone :-( it's morning ritual to go visiting my favourite blogs. I'm going to love your non-food stories. I'll be bookmarking suggestions for our 2012 European visit.

        Your chicken looks very duck-like; our chickens are shorter or more squat. And wrapping in Proscuitto? How could that NOT be delicious? Love it.

        Reply
        • Thanks Eva – I hope I can inspire you with my future wanderings around my local area :)

  2. OMG! Look at that chicken wrapped in prosciutto!!!!! That is a thing of beauty! I love it Charles. I've never made a whole chicken before…I should do that some Sunday. It no doubt would give us leftovers for the week too.

    And I LOVE your adventure. I can't wait to read more. I went to Versailles with some friends on a tour of Europe after college and it was one of my favorite places in France. That palace and those grounds – just amazing! It is so sad that they tend such a wonderful garden only for it to go to waste. Yet, as wrong as it seems, it's also rather fitting if one believes the story about the Queen in which she said, "Let them eat cake." :) Still, I'm with you – they should make some kind of use of the food aside from beauty.

    Reply
    • Oh oh, roasting a whole chicken is a whole barrel of fun, especially when you get it just right so the skin is all crispy and golden. It really is a wonderfully economical dish too. I always think it's weird when I hear other people have been to Versailles too – small world, but then it's quite a popular tourist destination. You should see the tourist hordes spilling out of the train station in the mornings during the summer months… absolutely incredible. They've improved the Chateau "experience" a lot recently. I went for the first time about 5 years ago and it was terrible. Room after room of literally "nothing". No furniture, barely any art, with a few rooms at the end which were actually interesting. I went again recently and the route is about 3 times longer, with so much more stuff to see… definitely worth the entry cost now. Hope you enjoy reading my future "trips" :)

      Reply
      • I have no doubt I'll enjoy your future trips. It's always fun to see places that I want to go – and I'd love to get back to Versailles. I know that Mr. N would absolutely love it. He really gets into architecture and design. One of these days we'll get the kids over there. In the meantime, I'm going to live vicariously through you. :) And I'm putting a whole chicken on my list of things to cook this fall. (And you can bet it will be wrapped in prosciutto!) :)

        Reply
        • Hehe, let me know when you decide to make the whole chicken, and if you plan on taking a trip to Versailles anytime soon let me know and I'll show you around!

  3. Charles, what an excellent idea to publish you adventures! The photos are incredible! They bring back make one want to go and visit Versailles again.

    The chicken wrapped in ham is amazing! I have already had small birds (pigeons and cockerels) wrapped in bacon, but dried ham sounds even better! I must try it one day!

    I buy whole chicken very often and also only free range (like eggs). One (silly in appearance) tv program showing birds in cages was for me enough to stop buying the pointlessly tortured birds. When I sometimes eat out some low quality chicken the difference is also huge in taste.

    However, I rarely bake it whole. I often cut it before baking or before using the parts in another way. Then I am left with a carcass, which, as you say, is excellent for a home-made stock. I reduce it and freeze it and it's usually enough for several soups.

    The ham is really a great tip! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind comments Sissi – I've had pigeons and quails wrapped in bacon too, they're so delicious. One of my father's favourite dishes is pigeon or quail wrapped in bacon, served on a bed of cabbage, with a redcurrant sauce (I think) and a side of game chips… a bit like thick potato chips. Served with a good bordeaux, it's so delicious! I'm making a point of buying organic, free-range meat and animal products wherever possible – It's more expensive, but it just means that I eat less of it. Many people in general eat way too much meat I think so it's not a bad thing. I remember reading about a chicken "farm" in the US which had to destroy vast quantities (read: at least several hundred thousand, possible more than a million) because one or two birds had some contagious disease. Of course, they can't take risks with public health, but it's wrong that living creatures are just treated as commodities. Apparently as well more than 50% of factory farmed chickens have issues with cancer at the time of slaughter so we're all eating cancer-meat… yummy!

      Anyway – more cheerfully – glad you liked the post – I'll post some more about a new trip in a week or so :)

      Reply
      • Charles, the worst is the amount of antibiotics the standard farms stuff into animals: they have to because when animals are kept in unnatural and difficult conditions (they cannot even turn, not to mention walk) they become aggressive and develop many diseases and they are also given hormones to grow quicker. I am always thinking: put human beings in such small space and see how they react…

        And then we eat all the antibiotics…

        I agree that free-range meat is more expensive in general, but, as you say, we eat too much meat anyway and people are simply used to very cheap meat. Strangely, the free-range pork is not expensive (the difference is ridiculous) and lamb is almost the same price as the standard one, but I have to go especially to another butcher's to get it.

        Older people say that when they were young meat wasn't a daily thing for average people, but then in those times animals weren't kept in small cages to save the space and weren't given hormones to grow quicker…

        Reply
        • Eep, absolutely – body-builder style cows with so much "meat enhancement" drugs they look like walking steaks :p I know some people who honestly believe that "a meal is not a meal if it doesn't include meat" and this weird glazed, horrified look comes over their face when you mention salads or something like this :D

          The supermarket near me finally started selling things like organic pork tenderloin so now I can feel good about enjoying this wonderful cut of meat too!

  4. By the way, I have started to use the wonderful knife I have won in your giveaway! It's incredible! What I love most is the fact that the handle is adapted to a woman's hand (or maybe it's simply versatile? some handles I have tested were too big for me). It's extremely comfortable! The handle's colour is the biggest surprise: it has an exceptionally beautiful colour!

    Thank you once more! I will soon boast about it on my blog ;-)

    Reply
    • "the handle is adapted to a woman’s hand"

      Oh I see – telling me I have woman hands? :D Well, I find the handle a good fit for me too, and I guess my hands are quite big. I agree about the colour – it's a really rich colour. Their website has some videos showing how they make their knives – it's really interesting :) So glad you like it!

      Reply
      • Charles, I didn't want to suggest you have woman's hands! I suppose they make perfect handles because some knives I have tried in shops were extremely uncomfortable and I always assumed they were made for bigger hands.

        Can you advise a good knife sharpener? You have more experience than me in taking care of good knives…

        Reply
        • Hi Sissi – I bought this one earlier this year – it's quite expensive, but it has a very good solid feel, good handle and is really effective too! I prefer these over alternative style knife sharpeners as they don't grind down the blade so much and make them last longer!

        • Thank you, Charles. It is a bit expensive I agree, but if it's good, it will last many years or a whole life.

  5. I love the idea of adventure posts ) I would really like to read more of them and to see more pictures)

    Is there anyone living in this village nowadays? It looks a bit too clean to be a modern farm, though I don't know how French farms looks )

    Reply
    • Hi Marianna, thanks a lot – I'm going to try and make an adventure once a week – it's also a great way of forcing myself to use my camera more. Up to now I haven't been taking any photos except for food, and I used to love going out taking photos, so this is great motivation :)

      There's no-one living on the farm anymore – it's all empty buildings – it's quite weird to go there in the winter – around 5pm, when it's dark and cold, no-one else around… the park closes around 6 or 7 I think so you can still walk about then. Really eerie.

      Reply
      • Ha, and you didn't break in the abandoned buildings and didn't take pictures from inside?……. )

        I would really like to see more pictures and to see how people live in France, it's so interesting… When you live somewhere you take a lot of things for granted and you dont think that they might be interesting to someone – but they are )

        Reply
        • Ha, I wouldn't really call them "abandoned" :/ Cracking open the doors on these places would be equivalent to breaking open a door on an "un-used" part of the Louvre, just so you could take a look inside :p

        • Sounds like a lot of fun actually ) Robert Langdon wouldn't hesitate!!

  6. I love the pictures….beautiful photography and a great read….look forward to reading about more of your beautiful adventures and of course food stories…

    Reply
    • Thank you Shilpa! I think next week I might take a trip into Paris and so that will give me something to write about :) Have a great day!

      Reply
  7. You know, I think I've only cooked a whole chicken once or twice in my life. I don't know why because it makes entire sense to do it that way. Lemon and thyme is a delicious combination with chicken (were you able to taste it under the gravy? :)) I really appreciate the simplicity of this recipe Charles. Gorgeous photos of Hameau de la Reine; that is odd about the produce being left to die in the fall after its fulfilled its showcase purpose… I wish I was there to recover it…

    Reply
    • The trick is to not add too much gravy, but I'm a bit of a heathen so I usually have a small lake on my plate, although I save it for the roast potatoes :D Glad you liked the photos – I used to go out and take quite a lot of photos but don't really do that at all anymore so this is a great way of renewing my old hobby too :)

      Reply
  8. A whole village just for one person. What great pictures and a great recipe to boot. That chicken must be wonderfully tender. I love proscuitto!

    Reply
    • "A whole village just for one person" – oh to be rich royalty, but then with a lifestyle like that, as well as the chateau not far away, it's not surprised the proles wanted her head :/ Glad you liked the post!

      Reply
  9. Wow! I have just noticed the banner! I find it very cute and original! Do you intend to change it a bit every season? The falling leaves are a great idea!

    Reply
    • Hehe, yeah – I'm not at all gifted in graphic design so I hired a guy from Freelancer.com to make me 6 banners – Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Easter and Christmas, so I'm going to be updating the banner as the year ticks by :) My favourite is "Winter" and "Summer", but you'll need to wait to see those :D

      Reply
      • I'm looking forward to see them!

        Reply
  10. Wow, you definitely live in a ideal location. If there is a nice hotel near by, you have to let me know because you're close to everything. And this home is stunning. I love the culture and its story. You definitely brought smile to my face with this beautiful cottage home and this beautiful looking lemon chicken. Adding prosciutto to this is just superb

    Reply
    • Hi Kay – nice hotel? Well, there's this place literally right next to the Chateau park grounds – you can have a view of the castle, the park and gardens all from here, but it's rather expensive :D There are plenty of cheaper hotels right in the centre of Versailles though so you can easily find something to suit any budget!

      Reply
  11. You know how I feel about prosciutto…but an ENTIRE chicken wrapped in prosciutto!? WOW. That is just stunning. I don't even know what to say. All around great photos. I'm extremely jealous of your location. When can I come visit? ;) Oh, and I just saw that you're on bloglovin. Following you there as well now.

    Reply
    • Thanks Caroline – It was a tasty chicken :) If you're ever in my "neck of the woods", so to speak, let me know – I'll give you a guided tour!

      Reply
  12. Made a version of this dish tonight! – DE.LIGHT.FUL. – we loved the combination of lemon thyme and being reminded of the practicality of cooking a whole chicken! Thanks Charles.

    Reply
    • Glad you were happy with the results Kelly! I hope you're able to make some yummy soup, or at least stock, with the carcass afterwards! :)

      Reply
      • Are you kidding me? I don't think there was a speck of meat left on the carcass by the time we were done. We picked it dry. Delish…

        Reply
        • Haha, good to hear – I think some people like to crack the bones open and boil it up for a really long time with some onion, carrot etc to make a stock (though you might want to read up about that) – sounds like you already disposed of it though. I guess people generally don't keep bare chicken carcasses lying around the house :D

  13. First of all, the chicken looks so yummy! I love prosciutto and it's such a wonderful idea to use that to trap the moisture and the flavor! Second of all, your story was wonderful and makes me miss France dearly. I went on a family vacation there a few years back and we visited the Hamlet. Everything was dead then, too, but it was so pretty there and I wish I could go back! Keep up the fun stories and beautiful pictures, along with the great food!! :D

    Reply
    • I used to start work quite late … around 1030, and would sometimes take a walk in the hamlet before work with my wife – at this time in the morning, especially in late autumn, when it's all frosty outside on the grass – with no-one else around, save a few dog walkers, it's really a magical place – very peaceful and beautiful. Glad you liked the look of the dish – let me know if you decide to try it!

      Reply
  14. The photos are gorgeous and the recipe looks yum. I like lemon roasted chicken and then when you wrap it with prosciutto .. awsm :)

    Reply
    • Thanks Kankana – glad you liked it and the photos! :)

      Reply
  15. What a great story and the chicken looks perfectly roasted, full of flavours! I loved this post too!

    Reply
    • Thanks Purabi! Glad you enjoyed the post :) Hope you're having a good day!

      Reply
  16. This is going to be my first weekend dinner in SF. I love you brushed the sauce all over the chicken with attention. And thanks for the story of petit chateau de Marie Antoinette.

    Reply
    • Thanks Cham! By the way, if you want to make it extra delicious, make some cuts in a lemon and then push the whole lemon into the chicken's… er… "derriere". Super tasty after the lemon juice has evaporated into the chicken meat!

      Reply
    • Aaah, I forgot to say – we're going to the Korean restaurant in Paris tomorrow night, Bong! Jealous? :D

      Reply
      • Nah not really, too many Korean things here. But I am jealous of buying good quality chacuteries not in expensive prices in Paris. It is not easy to keep our rituals here.

        Reply
        • Aah, speaking of that – I need to buy some and make a nice fondue savoyarde sometime soon! I still have the little tin of fuel for my fondue kit sitting in the refrigerator (I was scared it might suddenly catch fire in the summer, lol)

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