Mormor's Birthday Dinner of Roast Chicken, Sweet and Sour Cucumber and Separated Gravy

Columbus Leth

This is a classic Danish summer dish that is served with variations from region to region. It is my grandmother’s recipe, which she always cooked for her birthday, on 16th July. It is very important for all the ingredients to be seasonal, with new potatoes, and it has to be a big, juicy, tasty chicken. I still cook it on my mormor’s birthday if I am home and not travelling, otherwise I cook it a few times every summer.

Scandivanian Comfort FoodScandivanian Comfort Food
by Trine Hahnemann

Ingredients

  • 1 large organic chicken
  • 100g/3 1/2 oz curly parsley
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 400ml/1 3/4 cups water
  • 100ml/1/2 cup double (heavy) cream
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1.5kg/3lb 6oz new potatoes, to serve

For the sweet and sour cucumber

  • 250ml/1 cup clear vinegar (5%)
  • 50ml/1/4 cup water
  • 125g/2/3 cup caster (granulated) sugar
  • 2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of salt

For the green salad

  • 1 summer lettuce, leaves separated
  • 100ml/1/2 cup single (light) cream
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2–3 Tbsp lemon juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper and stuff with the parsley and peppercorns. Place in a roasting tin and rub the outside of the chicken with salt. Roast for 20 minutes then add the water to the tin and roast for 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on size, now and then basting the chicken with the fat that has rendered into the tin, to make the skin crisper. Use a meat thermometer to check the inside of a thigh to see if it is done; it should read 75°C/167°F. Remove to a plate or board to rest and keep warm.

While the chicken is roasting, whisk together the vinegar, water and sugar for the sweet and sour cucumber, and when all the sugar has dissolved add the cucumber slices and salt and set aside, folding gently now and then. Boil the new potatoes until tender, then drain.

For the green salad, rinse the lettuce leaves and drain well. Mix the cream, sugar, salt and lemon juice in a bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Fold the lettuce leaves through the dressing just before serving.

While the chicken is resting, pour the liquid from the roasting tin into a saucepan, add the cream and bring to the boil, then season with salt and pepper. The gravy will tend to separate, but give it a nice whisk and stir it every now and then with a spoon once on the table. Carve the chicken and serve with the boiled potatoes, sweet and sour cucumber, green salad and gravy. A world-class meal!

* * *

Reprinted from Scandinavian Comfort Food by Trine Hahnemann. Copyright 2017 Quadrille Publishing. Photography by Columbus Leth.

 

Yield: 
Serves 6
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