roast chicken pasta

my freezer is absolutely bursting at the moment so the main criteria for deciding what to cook is clearing space. the obvious starting point for this was a very plump 2.5kg chicken.

i always like to roast chickens so that i can make stock with the carcass but i’m not that keen on a traditional roast dinner. i usually get round this by ditching the roast potato option in favour of something like a pilaf but this time i took inspiration from a friend who mentioned “i did have a very nice meal which was roast chicken, which you then break up and separate as soon as it is out of the oven, and mix with tagliatelle, fresh rosemary and sultanas, making sure to include all the chicken skin and juices and just serve straight away like that. it was gorgeous.”

perfect, decision made. this dish was based on a nigella lawson recipe which i adapted given i didn’t have any tagliatelle or sultanas (the chicken was already in the oven by the time i worked out what i wanted to make with it!).

i used orechiette (i love the way juices get caught in this shape of pasta) and substituted cranberries for the sultanas. as there were only two of us i just carved a mix of breast and leg meat, complete with crispy skin, rather than break up the whole bird. i did use all the pan juices (having strained off the fat and added white wine to it) plus a tablespoon each of toasted pine nuts, soaked cranberries and fresh parsley plus a little less fresh rosemary. i also squeezed over a bit of lemon juice and added plenty of seasoning.

the resulting dish is packed with flavour and was perfect for a slightly damp evening which, sadly, had a  hint of autumn in the air.

i’m sharing this dish with ruth from once upon a feast who is hosting presto pasta nights – this is my autumnal contribution although i’m hoping summer will hang on for a few weeks more.

nigella lawson’s tagliatelle with chicken (serves 6 to 8)

a 2.25kg chicken

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt and freshly milled black pepper

leaves from 3 rosemary sprigs, finely chopped

a handful of sultanas, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes

a handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted

450g tagliatelle

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

preheat the oven to 180c.

rub the chicken with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper, then place it breast down in a roasting pan and roast for about 1 ½ hours*, or until well browned, turning it over toward the end to brown the breast. it's done when the juices run clear, not pink, when you cut into the thigh. when the chicken is nearly ready, put abundant water on for the pasta, salting it when it boils.

take the chicken out of the oven and take the meat off the bone, leaving all that glorious burnished skin on, and cut it into small pieces. much of this can be done by just pulling, without a knife, but if you haven't got asbestos hands, use a knife and fork or wait until it is cooler.

for the sauce, pour all the juices from the roasting pan into a saucepan. add a splash of wine if you are using it plus the rosemary, drained sultanas and pine nuts. begin to simmer the sauce when you are ready to cook the pasta.

cook and drain the pasta, and toss it with the sauce, chicken pieces, and parsley (plus lemon juice if using) in a large warmed bowl.

* roast chicken needs 20 minutes per 450g plus up to an extra 20 minutes (larger birds are less likely to need the extra time). the bird is cooked when the juices are clear (not bloody) when you test the thigh meat.