I’ve made roast chicken more times than I can remember, but never before with chakalaka. The idea was sparked by a recent cook-off at the Capsicum culinary school. Cooking in pairs, we were challenged to recreate a delicate Asian dish, expertly prepared by Jodi-Ann Pearton, but with an African twist. The only additional ingredients on the bench were chakalaka, spicy salt and squash. The possibilities seemed rather bleak. I’ll come clean here and say I’ve never cooked with chakalaka before and now I’m wondering what took me so long. There’s loads of lively stuff happening in that tin. And yes, it comes out of a Koo tin. Reserve your judgement until later. I’m now eating my words as well as this magnificent golden roasted bird and it’s incredibly good!
Roast chicken remains top of the most searched recipes on Google. I mean, who doesn’t love a succulent chicken roast? Chicken is also one of the easiest proteins to cook. There’s no guessing as to its doneness, like say red meat or duck. Rare, medium rare, well done or blackened to death are not optional. Cook until the juices run clear and you’re home free. Chicken also offers a choice of dark or white meat. For lazy days and hands-free cooking, nothing beats an all-in one oven roast. This Spanish roast chicken is another favourite that takes no time at all and delivers big taste for very little effort.
For this recipe I wanted to incorporate the flavours of the chakalaka but without the typical chunky texture you’d expect. That’s where the marinade comes in. It’s simplicity itself to make. Into the blender goes chakalaka, freshly grated ginger, soy sauce, molasses sugar and lemon. The taste has a subtle sweetness balanced out by spicy heat. Marinating the bird overnight is obviously preferable but not essential. If you only have an hour to spare, that’ll do. I throw a hefty portion of spuds in around the sides. There’s a household of potato fans here and after all, what’s a roast without spud-buddies? As the chicken roasts all the pan juices coat the potatoes and they become marmitey and delicious. I’ve also served the chicken with corn on the cob and roasted sweet potatoes for a proudly South African Sunday lunch feast.
- Chakalaka marinated roast chicken
- Marinade ingredients
- 3 heaping tablespoons chakalaka (hot and spicy)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3cm knob ginger, grated
- zest of 1 lemon plus juice of half
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- black pepper
- 1.5kg free-range chicken
- 8-10 roasting potatoes, washed and cut into wedges
- extra lemon wedges, to serve
- Place all the marinade ingredients into a processor and blitz until smooth.
- Smear the whole chicken with the marinade, cover and set aside for at least an hour or preferably overnight in the fridge.
- Bring up to room temperature before roasting. Preheat the oven to 180º C.
- Transfer the chicken to a roasting tray. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Arrange the potatoes around the sides, drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Cover with foil and roast for about 45 minutes.
- Remove the foil and turn the oven up to 200º C. Baste the bird and potatoes with the pan juices and roast uncovered for a further 50-55 minutes until the skin is golden and the juices of the chicken run clear when pierced. Check that the potatoes are fork tender.
- Cover with foil and rest for about 10 minutes before carving.