Greetings! Here we go with the seventh of our Cooking with Coronation Street blog posts in which we take recipes from this little gem of a book from 1992 and see what they turn out like when cooked at home by Corrie fans.
Our friends from the Coronation Street podcast - Conversation Street, Gemma and Michael have taken up the cookery challenge again, this time to make Rita's lemon roast chicken.
You can follow Conversation Street on Twitter @ConversationStr and Facebook
Michael and Gemma chose to cook Rita's Lemon Roast Chicken from the Corrie recipe book this time and now, it's over to them both...
Roast dinner is one of Britain’s most classic dishes. The meal we all eat on Christmas day, the quintessential Sunday lunch. At its most basic form it consists of sliced, roasted meat, roast potatoes (i.e. large chunks of boiled potatoes baked in the oven with vegetable oil, beef drippings or lard), gravy, and a couple of portions of boiled veg.
If you’re getting fancy you can add in roast parsnips, stuffing, cauliflower cheese, mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, pigs in blankets, and accompanying sauces – cranberry for chicken, mint or redcurrant sauce for lamb, horseradish for beef, apple sauce for pork and hollandaise for gammon. If you want to start arguments, mess with any of these elements for an important holiday, like Easter or Christmas. I have a friend whose family still don’t speak to other members after salmon was served on December 25th for lunch.
One in five Brits still have a Sunday roast regularly, and the rest are dirty heathens. Pretty much everyone follows their own guidelines for making a roast, passed down through the generations, so having a written recipe for a roast dinner is really unusual. That’s why we decided to try out Rita’s Lemon Roast Chicken, which together with her Summer Pudding recipe, makes Rita’s Sunday Dinner. Just so we can judge it like everyone judges every other family’s roast dinner recipes… they’re never as good as mum’s.
Rita’s introduction doesn’t do much for the faint-hearted. “I’ve chosen to do a roast dinner because I’ve always thought that if you can get through cooking and serving one without having a nervous breakdown, you can probably cope with everything,” she begins, before listing white wine and an extra lemon in the ingredients list so you can make yourself “a very large vodka and tonic just before you start the final stages of the meal.”
Never one to pass up sage cooking advice from a fellow lush, I got stuck right in.
First of all, arrange your bar area, because this is the most important part of the preparation. The sommelier’s choice for this meal is Blue Nun, perhaps Britain’s most famous bottle of cheap plonk, and super popular throughout the ‘80s, when Rita was enjoying her heyday.
Then, time to make a base for your gravy with giblets, onion, carrot, black pepper and bay leaf, to simmer while you roast the chicken. What’s that? You can’t find a chicken with giblets because everyone thinks they’re a little bit gross? Tough. Rita doesn’t care. She just wants you to move on. The chicken goes in the oven with a squeeze of lemon juice and the squeezed lemon inside the cavity, covered in olive oil and bacon.
Now you boil your peeled spuds, and shake them in the dry pan to fluff up the outsides. It’s more usual to roast your potatoes separately to get them really crispy, but Rita roasts hers inside the pan with the chicken for the last 25 minutes of the cooking time. She’s a renegade. This gives them a really gorgeous flavour and a hint of stickiness to their crunchy outside, but can result in a little bit of a soggy spud that’s prone to being a tiny bit anaemic unless you pay them a lot of attention. Rita has you drain your spuds after the chicken is cooked and return to the oven in a serving dish, but that’s not quite enough to really finish them off: you’ll need to pop them in a roasting dish with a bit of fat to do that… But you’re about to make yourself plenty of time to get that done in, so don’t you worry about it.
Now take your roasting pan which had the chicken and potatoes, spoon off the excess fat, and then heat over the hob, sprinkling over a tablespoon of flour and scraping up burnt bits as you go. Really you should chuck in the glass of white wine first, to deglaze, but Rita has you adding it after the flour is already incorporated because she’s very rebellious like that. Add in your giblet stock and the juice of half a lemon (you’ve already got the other lemon in a vodka tonic, don’t forget – you should probably have it into slices first, but it’s too late now). Stir until thickened, sieve into a jug (what lumps?!) and season as needed. With a Bisto cube, maybe, if you couldn’t find those giblets.
While this has been going on, Rita reminds you you should have already cooked your vegetables, which is very helpful and probably why you need a hefty vodka. She suggests you pre-boil your veggies so you can reheat them at this point to save stress, but it’s all well and good to start saying now, isn’t it, love? So anyway, let everything get a little bit cold while you boil up your choice of carrots, courgettes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or peas. Just don’t expect anyone to thank you for boiling up courgettes to go with a roast dinner. Rita suggests you pick veggies that contrast in colour – just do carrots and peas, then. Let’s not get too controversial at this late stage.
Now you carve the chicken using your bluntest knife otherwise you’ll probably drunkenly stab yourself to death in the kitchen like Michelle Connor nearly did the other week, and your family will only notice when they get really hungry. Shove everything on a plate or let your family serve themselves while you drink your vodka tonic and then get started on the rest of the Blue Nun.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next of our Cooking with Coronation Street blog posts coming very soon.
- Cooking with Coronation Street, Manchester Tart
- Cooking with Coronation Street, Betty's Hot Pot
- Cooking with Coronation Street, Angie Freeman's lentil soup
- Cooking with Coronation Street, Alec's Whiskey Chicken
- Cooking with Coronation Street, Curly's red wine chicken
- Cooking with Coronation Street, Bet and Alec's Guinness Casserole
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