During the months of January and February I like to have plenty of colour around me in the house - plants and fresh flowers fulfil that need bringing some of their sunshine indoors.
Do you buy Marks & Spencer 'Dine in' for Two £10? It is great value and includes a main course, a side dish of vegetables, dessert and a bottle of wine. From the choices available I always chose the whole fresh chicken - look carefully as they vary in price from about £4 up to over £8 within the deal. It pays to search the cabinet for the big ones!!! You can then chose a dessert, we had New York cheesecake, a side vegetable dish - I chose mushrooms stuffed with soft cheese and herbs which actually made a meal in itself with ratatouille and crusty bread. Then you can pick a bottle of wine from a selection of white, red, and rosé which are valued at around £7. Add all that up and you have got items which would normally cost over £20 in M & S. The great thing is that not only do we get a Sunday roast chicken dinner, but the two following days we have cold chicken with vegetables or salad and jacket potatoes. The next two days the chicken becomes a curry to which I add dessert apples, sultanas, and toasted almonds. Following all these meals, the bones are made into a stock. This is made into a nutritious soup. By the end of the week the two of us have eaten all of our daily main meals from the £10 'deal' plus the extras we have in the store cupboard, fridge and picked from the garden.
Even if you live in a country without an M & S store, a large fresh chicken can work wonders all week long.
I prepare the chicken for roasting by making deep scores in the breast and legs then poking fresh thyme from the garden in some slits and slithers of garlic in the others. A twist of ground black pepper, a scattering of 'Maldon' sea salt flakes, then squeeze the juice of a whole large lemon over the lot, tucking what remains of the lemon inside the carcass along with some more fresh thyme. That is it, no need for oils or fats - the lemon, garlic, and thyme all flavour and perfume the meat delicately.