About Roast Chicken…


Okay, first up, up until about 5 seconds ago I had no idea what I was going to call this bloggy series.

Given that it’s a kitchen diary of sorts I was thinking of “The Nigella Diaries” but figured that could attract readers for a very different reason. Then I thought of “How To Cook How To Eat” because that’s what the challenge is – cooking my way through Nigella’s mammoth How To Eat, but that title is way too much of a mouthful (pun intended). “Nothing Like Nigella” or “Not Even Close To Nigella” also crossed my mind but both of these are too similar to another blog – Not Quite Nigella.

What am I talking about? My Nigella Challenge. Or rather, number 100 in my 101 things to do in 1001 days list – to cook (and blog) my way through Nigella’s How To Eat.

I understand that this is probably a strange thing to see on a list like this, but I was inspired to add it to my list because:

  • I’d re-watched Julie and Julia – the movie where New Yorker Julie Powell embarks on a project to prepare all 524 recipes in Julia Childs’ landmark cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” – and wondered to myself “how hard could it be?”
  • I reorganised my cookbook shelves and began re-reading my Nigella collection – that’s the thing about a Nigella cookbook, sometimes you get so caught up in the words that you forget it’s a cookbook
  • I’d decided to name the dog in the Christmas novel that I intend to write this year Nigella. The other dog will be named Nigel after my other favourite food writer, Nigel Slater. Hopefully, they’ll never know. I’m toying with naming my character Delia, but that could be too much of a cliche.

So, now it’s on the list I have to do it – and what sounded like a cinch when I was contemplating it has grown into something much bigger. In answer to my “how hard could it be?” question, the answer is “actually, pretty tough.”

The biggest challenge though was how to tackle the, well, challenge.

The book is humungous – and a modern classic. First published back in 2008 there are over 300 listed recipes in the book, but many more wound through the words that are more ideas than prescriptive recipes – and that’s what I love about it.

Another thing I love about this cookbook – there are no pictures. That’s right, not one. Even though Nigella is absolutely one who photographs everything she eats, this book was published before the Instagram revolution. It’s unashamedly home cooking and by virtue of that many of the recipes would be a nightmare to style.

Rather than falling into analysis paralysis I’ve decided to approach this in a very Nigella way:

  • From the beginning – a very good place to start… The first chapter, appropriately titled Basics is about the foundations. Nigella says that confidence comes from competence and it’s only through mastery of foundations that you can be a tad creative. In this chapter, we’ll learn about custards and pastry, ice cream and sauces. Many of these basics are used in later recipes, so that’s what I’ll do too. Sure, I’m an experienced cook, but believe it or not, I’ve never made things like mayonnaise and hollandaise and bearnaise from scratch. Where it is something that I’ve cooked repeatedly I’ll let you know how I do it too.
  • If I don’t like it I’m not going to cook it. That’s also a Nigella thing – life’s too short to eat something you don’t like. How to Eat is about pleasure – and that, for me, is what cooking should be. If I choose not to cook something, I will, however, tell you why. Like the liver recipes. I won’t be cooking the liver.
  • Some ingredients are tough to get out here. When we get to game birds such as grouse and pheasants you’ll probably read me prattling on about cooking something other than that.
  • If I adjust anything – as I tend to do – I’ll tell you what and why.
  • If it needs equipment I don’t have I won’t cook it. Again, I’ll tell you why.
  • I won’t photograph everything. Some food has, to quote Nigella, “a face that only a mother could love.” Besides, this is a cooking challenge – not a food styling one.
  • I won’t post each week – or I might. I might also stray into other of her cookbooks from time to time – usually to illustrate something from How To Eat.

So, that’s the challenge.

The first recipe in How To Eat is roast chicken. Nigella prefaces it with these words: “You could probably get through life without knowing how to roast a chicken, but the question is, would you want to?”

And that is why this series will be called About Roast Chicken…and why my first post in the series will be about that – roast chicken.

This series will also be available at Brookford Kitchen Diaries.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishWrite of the Middle, and, of course, me.

Inlinkz Link Party

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

20 thoughts

  1. ‘About Roast Chicken’ is an awesome title! I too was inspired by ‘Julia and Julie’ and also wondered ‘how hard can it be? My wondering sadly stopped there. I greatly look forward to following this series!

    1. My family laughs these days when I say ‘how hard can it be?’ It very often turns out to be very hard indeed lol.

  2. Fantastic! I’m really looking forward to this series Jo! Love a dog named Nigella too. LOL #TeamLovinLife

  3. What a great series Jo and it is a pity we can’t taste your finished products. I was thinking this year of trying a new recipe each week although I wasn’t going to write about it. Perhaps I can get some inspiration for what to make from your series. I’m also happy to read there is another book due out by Christmas – put me on the waiting list! Have a great week!

    1. I love trying new things – the hard part is remembering what we tried and what we liked. That’s probably the main reason why I blog my recipes – or at least some of them.

  4. Could I just say that food posts usually bore me to tears Jo (yes I’m a foodie phillistine) but I loved your post today. You write so well and your enthusiams just leaches through. I’ll be following along and browsing through your Roast Chicken journey – but will just smile indulgently at you and keep cooking our usual fare xx

    1. Lol! I giggled because that’s what my daughter does each time I ask how hard something can be – smiles indulgently and lets me get on with it.

  5. Mmm roast chicken, one of my favourite meals and one that can be executed in so many ways. My favourite easy care method is to use the slow cooker, I was stunned to find that a chicken actually browns that way. I look forward to following your journey through Nigella land.

    1. Wow, I’ve never tried it in the slow cooker! And it browns? I might look into that. We do a lot these days as easy traybakes too – with thigh pieces (skin on and on the bone).

  6. It sounds like a great idea and now I’m going to be obsessed with pondering a suitable name.

    Also, did I just see you’ve started another foodie Insta account? (Am behind the times, too self-absorbed….)

    1. Yeah I did – I was doing so much baking that I didn’t want to clog up my regular insta. Also I have a little site that I post my recipes too. It’s not something I’m promoting or anything, it truly is just an on-line kitchen diary of sorts. I called it Brookford Kitchen Diaries after the village in Wish You Were Here because I was originally going to write it from Max’s viewpoint, but then couldn’t be faffed.

      1. Could that be your Nigella challenge? A character (Nigel? or similar) who decides to cook NIgellas recipes and prefaces each recipe with a blurb of some point (from not-your point of view?)

  7. Enjoy the cooking adventures. My hubbie has announced his new year plan is to cook more for fun. I figure that exonerates me! Winning.

  8. What a great title for your series! I’ve got a few Nigella books but sadly this is not one of them. I heard her speak last year and she was absolutely fabulous – so inspiring!

  9. This should be fun! I love the name…somehow it’s very Aussie {don’t ask me why!}. I must confess I didn’t watch Julie and Julia – turns out, while I enjoy eating, I’m not huge on watching stuff about food! I don’t even watch Masterchef and all the other cooking shows. Now if they were cooking it for me, I’d be fine to eat it! 😀

  10. As soon as I started reading this I thought of Julie and Julia. LOL. It was that movie that started me blogging daily! I’d watched that movie around my 40th birthday and WHAM, here I am … a blogger.

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