I sometimes find it really hard to think about dinner in this searing heat. I have lost my appetite for everything apart from watermelon and let’s be honest, you can’t feed a family on fruit alone.
It is definitely too hot to have the oven on for roasting a chicken so here’s a simple way to roast one outside on the grill. You may be thinking “I’m not going outside in this heat” but while you’re there you can use it as an excuse to water the plants and the lawn (and yourself /offspring /pets) at the same time.
Serve the roast chicken with something as refreshingly cool as a cucumber salad and you have the perfect summer dinner. Even better – if you choose a big enough chicken, you should have enough leftovers to make chicken salad the next day, giving you another way to avoid the kitchen and stay in the sprinkler or pool.
The recipe for this mouthwateringly refreshing summer salad is from my friend, chef Nicky Sandels. Earlier this week I sought solace from the heatwave by attending her Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking course where she shared this quick, healthy dish.
Tomato and Cucumber Salad
4 medium tomatoes
1 medium red onion
3-4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Handful of pitted olives
Handful of chopped feta cheese (optional)
Handful of fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the cucumbers if they’re not organic, as the skin contains a lot of pesticides. Finely chop the cucumbers, tomatoes and onion then chop the mint very finely. In a large bowl, mix the onion, cucumber, tomato and mint. Then add the lime juice, olive oil, olives, salt and black pepper. Mix well and serve.
Whole Chicken on the Grill
1 whole chicken
Fresh herbs – thyme, rosemary
Salt and pepper
Some cooking twine/string
Wash the bird and remove any giblets that may be inside. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels before rubbing olive oil all over and seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Cut off any excess skin. Put the herbs in the cavity. Truss the chicken’s legs using butcher’s twine. Tie the legs and tuck in the wings tips.
To prepare your grill, brush a little olive oil on the center of the grill where you will place the bird. Heat your grill and make sure it is nice and hot. Then turn off the center burner and keep the top and bottom burners on a medium heat. (Check your manufacturer’s instructions online—it may differ by model—but essentially this should convert your grill into a convection oven).
Place the bird breast side down in the center of the grill. Cook for 1¼ to 1½ hours with the grill lid closed. There’s no need to turn the chicken over as you’ve converted the grill into a convection oven not a grill!
To see if the meat is cooked check the temperature with a meat thermometer. It should read 170° in the thickest part of the leg. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, cut between the drumstick and thigh - the meat should no longer be pink and the juices should run clear.
When done, take off the heat and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting. This helps the meat stay juicy and moist.
Serve the roast chicken the tomato and cucumber salad and maybe a side of cold pasta and voila! You have a great summer meal for the family.