Engagement Roast Chicken with Beetroot Puree
Nigella Lawson once wrote, "You could probably get through life without knowing how to roast a chicken, but the question is, would you want to?" Roast chicken is, for me, a taste you really cannot replicate in a restaurant, especially on some Valentine's Day prix fixe menu. It's proper home food. This is why I think the most romantic thing you could ever cook a person is a whole roast chicken, because it's when you take that bronzed, burnished bird out of the oven like you're June freakin' Cleaver and carve it right there in front of him, letting the juices spill out onto the cutting board, then pop out the two tender "oysters" on each side of the backbone (the best parts of the chicken), dip one into the juices, and feed it to him with your bare hands — it's then that he'll be weak in the knees with gratitude and see how much you care, how much you expect him to clean up the mess you just made and even do the dishes later.
1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds), room temperature
1 lemon, halved
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 can beets, drained
1/3 cup tahini
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Pat the chicken dry (even let it sit in the fridge overnight, uncovered, if you have the time; this helps dry the skin out for extra crispage later). Making sure your bird is at room temperature, stick a lemon half up its bum, drizzle with olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Place on a roasting tray and into the oven, legs first. Roast 60 minutes total, basting in between (that is, pour the pan drippings over the breasts and legs a couple times throughout the cooking process). Let the finished bird rest at least 15 minutes out of the oven before carving.
Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, blitz the beets, tahini, second lemon half, salt and pepper until smooth and magenta, and serve with the chicken.