The other week H turned his hand to cooking bacon and egg sandwiches and following on from that success, he wanted to try out something else. This time we have been trying a full roast chicken dinner. We picked this out because it’s a meal that we eat every couple of weeks at home (and then use up the remainder of the bird through the week as part of a range of meals – we often get 3 or even 4 meals out of a large chicken). Also I think roasting a chicken is about the easiest one to judge whether it’s cooked through, because you can see the juices running clear.
Also a roast dinner is a key part of family life. It’s a warming, homely meal that makes you feel good. Sitting down to eat it together always feels a bit special. Whilst the meat can take a long time to cook, the vegetables don’t generally take too long so I don’t find that it’s a time consuming meal to cook for a small family. It’s also a pretty healthy meal, especially if you go easy on the roast potatoes. It’s a great way to get two or three portions of vegetables into your day, without having to put a lot of thought and planning into your meals. I think cooking a roast dinner is a key skill to learn too. The way I see it, the ability to cook a roast dinner will always be in demand.
I got H hard at work preparing the vegetables while the chicken cooked away in the oven. I usually do carrots with chicken and I made sure he was peeling and cutting safely. Carrots are one of H’s favourite vegetables, so it’s good that he’s learnt how to prepare them. Broccoli is another favourite in this house so I instructed him in the art of getting that ready for cooking too. The potatoes needed peeling too. Luckily we have two peelers (handy to have a second in case the other one is in the dishwasher or something), so we were able to get the job done quickly between us. A good knife set is essential for any cook, so it’s worth making sure you have all the utensils you need.
We usually steam our vegetables so we got him to set up the steamer. I have a metal hob top one that works very well for us and has two layers, so I showed him how to use that too. I usually put potatoes in the bottom layer with the carrots on the top with broccoli perched on top of them. Cooking the vegetables in one pan helps reduce the washing up too. I showed H how to tell when the vegetables were cooked by testing with a knife. When there’s the right about of give and the knife goes in easily, the vegetables are done.
Just before the dinner was ready we made the gravy. To keep things simple we made gravy using granules, but another time I might teach him how to make a proper gravy using the cooking juices for added flavour. An adult carved the meat up, but H watched so that he understood what was needed. And then we all sat down to enjoy a full roast chicken dinner.
It was very tasty and H loved the fact that he’d been involved with the cooking of the meal.