Approx cost: €10
Approx calories (per serving): 300
Approx preparation and cooking time: 100 mins
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #173B0B;”] 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 😀
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 🙂