Recently I've been following a healthy eating plan as an experiment for Cosmo Online and one of the dishes it called for was roast chicken but using ghee instead of olive oil or butter. I use ghee (clarified butter) a lot in Indian cooking, but I've never thought to use it for other types of cuisines. The plan (from Nutritionist Madeleine Shaw) really uses only ghee or coconut oil for cooking - and whilst I use coconut oil a lot, I do find that it can leave a residual coconut flavour which I don't like for Mediterranean style food. Now ghee is being lauded as the latest wonder fat: it has a high smoke point, doesn't emit free radicals, aids metabolism and fat burning and all that kind of thing but again you still need to remember it is a fat.
I did as I was told and dutifully coated the chicken in ghee (I used about a tablespoon or so). The chicken was an absolutely glorious bird from the nice people at Farmdrop, who I mentioned in my post on British Chorizo. They source their organic produce from the most amazing places, and this chicken was the best I've ever seen - even better than at my favourite butchers. It was a mixture of deep yellow and rosy pink and was plump and luscious; I couldn't wait to cook it. I stuffed it with a whole lemon, an entire pack of thyme, some sage and lots of parsley, then surrounded it with red onion, sweet potato, carrot and celery to make a supercharged stock.
Two hours later and I had the nicest chicken I've cooked. The skin was puffed up and snappable it was so crispy, and the meat was perfect. I am using ghee every time for chicken from now on.
I'm almost never in the mood for an actual full on roast dinner, and this occasion was no different, so I served it with vast amounts of watercress and a little pesto of rocket and almond.
To make the pesto combine the following in a mini chopper or powerful blender: