Ginger & turmeric roast chicken. Recipe & styling – Jess Dennison. Photo – Denise Braki.

Ginger & turmeric roast chicken. Recipe & styling – Jess Dennison. Photo – Denise Braki.

Combine the classic Le Creuset casserole and a creative take on roast chook to make this Indian-style chicken recipe from UK foodie and stylist Jessica Dennison – who picked up a tip or two while working for Jamie Oliver.

Plenty of us have been inspired in the kitchen by Jamie Oliver, but in Jessica Dennison’s case it was first-hand. After working in the marketing team at Jamie HQ in London helping to plan shoots with the chef and his army of food stylists, Jess decided it was time to take a leap and try out the food industry for herself, making a move to Sydney at the same time.

Since arriving in January, Jess has been lucky enough to work in merchandising, recipe development and food prep for print and TV. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the best in the industry – including Temple & Webster’s very own Jono Fleming who has been a huge support.”

Here Jess shares some insider insight on working with Jamie, her winter rituals and her recipe for this sensational Indian-style roast chicken.

UK food stylist Jess Dennison. Photo – Denise Braki.

UK food stylist Jess Dennison. Photo – Denise Braki.

Why did you decide to move to Sydney? I visited friends here a few years ago and knew it was a country I needed to explore further. London life was getting a bit too hectic, I realised I wanted to be a food stylist and with the food scene so exciting here at the moment, I knew this would be the perfect setting for a new adventure and career jump.

You must get asked this question a lot, but what was it like working for Jamie Oliver? Pretty incredible! As you might imagine, it’s very fast-paced as we’re all trying to keep up with him and all the brilliant projects he’s kicking off around the world. Team Jamie comprises of some of the most creative, smart, ethically motivated and kind people out there and I felt very privileged to be part of that team.

What did you learn from him and his food ethos? The key thing I’ve taken away is how magical food can be in transforming lives. It was really special seeing Jamie’s fifteen apprentice chefs develop and graduate each year; seeing how a group of unemployed youths transform into fully trained And I’ll never forget how good it felt to teach a class of 6-year olds to make a simple, rainbow salad on Food Revolution Day.

Any winter rituals in the kitchen? In December at home, my Dad and I always spend a whole day in the kitchen making sultana-stuffed lamb koftede kebabs, listening to Miles Davies and Van Morrison and sharing a bottle of red. The recipe is from the first cookbook he bought for my Mum back in the 70s, and the pages are all stuck together as it’s been splashed and cooked from so many times.

You’ve used one of the Le Creuset casserole pans for this recipe, what do you like about cooking with them? My main tip would be to realise their versatility beyond the obvious slow-cook stew or roast. Le Creuset casseroles make a fantastic micro-oven for baking bread, and mid-week you can use them to make quick one-pot pasta dishes.

Tell us a little bit about your chicken recipe? I’ve noticed how popular the simple roast ‘chook’ is over here in Australia, but I wanted to show how a few spices and a simple marinade can transform it into something really special. Living amongst the Bangladeshi community in East London, I was never far from a good curry and I love how different spices add layer and depths of flavour. Ginger and turmeric are well-celebrated for their warming, immune-boosting benefits so make the perfect base for a marinade at this time of year. You could also use the marinade to flavour chicken breast skewers for a quick dinner too. Any leftovers can be thrown into a naan or wrap with some salad and raita for a lunch to look forward to the next day. I also have a slight obsession with pickles. To me they complete a savoury dish, and I wanted to show how quickly you can make one at home with the vegies that are sitting in your fridge. Here I’ve used purple carrots, but regular orange ones or other veggies work just as well.

Turmeric & Ginger Roast Chicken
with quick carrot & radish pickle
Serves 4

1/3 cup Greek-style yoghurt, plus extra to serve
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tbs each ground turmeric, coriander & paprika
7 garlic cloves, 3 peeled
3 small red chillies
1.5kg free-range chicken
3cm piece fresh ginger, half sliced, half peeled and roughly chopped
Small bunch coriander, leaves picked, stems roughly chopped
2 lemons
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp sea salt flakes
Basmati rice, to serve

Quick carrot & radish pickle
2 carrots (orange or purple), shaved into ribbons with a peeler
5 radishes, very thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, thinly sliced
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbs caster sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes

Place the yoghurt, spices, 3 peeled garlic cloves, 1 chilli (seeds removed), chopped ginger and coriander stalks together in a small food processor. Process until smooth.

Wearing rubber gloves (to prevent the turmeric from staining your hands), rub the marinade over the chicken. Cut half a lemon and place inside the cavity. Place the chicken on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and leave to marinate for 3-4 hours. (If you’re short on time, you’ll still get great results if you cook it straight away.)

Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook.

Preheat the oven to 210°C.

Slice the remaining 1½ lemons. Drizzle 1 tbs of the oil in a 28cm round Le Creuset casserole. Add the chicken, then throw the lemon slices, ginger slices, remaining chillies and unpeeled garlic cloves into the casserole around the chicken. Drizzle the chicken with the remaining 1 tbs oil over the chicken and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt (this helps to create a lovely crispy skin).

Place in the oven and roast, uncovered, for 1 hour 15 minutes, basting half-way with the cooking juices. Use a skewer to pierce the thickest part of the thigh – the juices will run clear when it’s cooked.

Meanwhile, for the pickle, place the lime juice, sugar and ½ tsp salt flakes in a glass or ceramic dish, then stir to dissolve. Add the carrot, radish and chilli, toss to coat, then set aside for at least 15 minutes to pickle.

Place the chicken on a wooden serving board, cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Carve the chicken, squeezing over the roast-lemony juices. Serve with the pickle, fluffy rice, extra yoghurt and the reserved coriander leaves.

Shop the Winter Cooking Collection here.

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