As an American anthropologist living abroad in London I have been on the never-ending quest to identify and define distinct elements of British culture. Though I have lived in London now for four years, and have adjusted very well by now to both the London and the British way of life, I am always reminded of the changes whenever I return to the states to visit, or receive a visit from American friends and family.
I have in the past year made the switch in career paths from arts anthropologist to culinary anthropologist, and have become even more interested in embarking on a quest to discover truly British food customs and recipes. What I have enjoyed doing, and continue to do is recognise these cultural food icons, and then recreate them to incorporate my American background. I have begun doing so using such cultural practices afternoon tea, salty Scottish porridge, scones, and now the Sunday Roast.
In short, the origins of the 'Sunday roast' are as follows; In medieval times the village serfs or peasants served the squire for six days a week. Sundays however were a day of rest, and after the morning church service the squire would reward them for their hard work during the week with a meal, often consisting of roasted oxen. The Sunday Roast was born, and today while no longer oxen, is still a mainstay in British families and pubs all over the country.
I, a former vegetarian for nearly 10 years, am determined to master the art of the perfectly roasted chicken. Roasted chicken for me, given my Jewish heritage, is an important feature in my cultural upbringing. Roasted chicken is known to often make its appearance at the Friday night Shabbat family dinner table. It's bones are used later to make the stock for matzah ball soup, chicken noodle soup etc. In this recipe I married the great traditions of both the British roast and the Jewish roasted chicken, with my love of the Southwest flavours of the United States. I bring you, Pasilla Chili Roasted Chicken.
Pasilla Chilli Roasted Chicken
2 tbsp Demorara sugar
1 tsp Pasilla chili powder
2-3 tsp olive oil
1x 2kg free range fresh chicken
1 whole onion
salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 170C.
In a small bowl combine sugar, chili powder and olive oil until you have made a thick and grainy paste. You can add more olive oil if you wish, it won't hurt.
Wash chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Insert the whole onion and ½ the lemon into the chicken's cavity. Sprinkle the skin of the chicken with sea salt and rub in. This will help you to create a crispier chicken skin by helping to drain the moisture out of the skin.
Generously cover the chicken in the sugar/chili paste, making sure to coat the chicken completely by rubbing the paste in with your fingers (my preference always- I'm a messy cook) or a pastry brush.
Place the chicken into a roasting pot, large enough that you will be able cover the pot with a lid half way through the cooking time.
Place the chicken uncovered into the oven for 45 minutes.
After the 45 minutes of cooking time is up, cover the chicken with the lid and cook for another 40 minutes or until the juices from the bird run clear.
Remove the bird from the oven and rest for a minimum of 10-15 minutes.
Enjoy with your favorite accompaniments and later on as leftovers