Trine Hahnemann’s roast chicken with sweet-and-sour cucumber salad
Some dishes just call out for summer. Roast chicken with sweet-and-sour cucumber salad does that for me. Chicken is eaten year round, but the way it is cooked ought to be defined by the season. I grew up with short vegetable seasons – some of the vegetables were so exciting because you had waited three whole seasons for them to return. When I was a girl, cucumber was a summer highlight. I ate them raw in big chunks, and they tasted green, sweet and light. Then, all summer, we would be served almost every day sweet-and-sour cucumber salad, a true Danish classic.
This recipe is a tribute to my grandparents and all the lovely summer dinners, when my grandmother cooked this dish. I’ve made my mark on it and changed a few things – baking the potatoes, adding thyme, garlic and lemon, pan-frying the cabbage instead of boiling it – but the cucumber salad is just like my grandmother’s recipe.
organic/free-range chicken 1 big, about 1.5 kg
curly parsley 100g
peppercorns 10, whole
For the potatoes
small potatoes 1.5kg
lemon 1, sliced
olive oil 50ml
garlic 1 whole head, cut in half with peel on
thyme 10 sprigs
For the sweet-and-sour cucumber salad
clear vinegar (5%) 250ml
caster sugar 200g
salt 1 tsp
cucumbers 2 large, thinly sliced
For the cabbage
pointed white cabbage 1 head
butter 2 tbsp
whole nutmeg ⅓
Preheat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6. Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff the chicken with the parsley and whole peppercorns. Place on a roasting pan and rub a little salt on the chicken skin. Cook for about 1 hour, maybe more.
Check the inside of the thigh to see if it’s done, or use a thermometer; it should be 75C. Turn down the heat to 160C if the skin starts to look dark.
Rinse the potatoes and keep the skin on, then place in an ovenproof dish. Add the lemon and the garlic, then the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper, and mix well. Bake in the oven with the chicken for the last 45 minutes.
While the chicken and the potatoes are in the oven, whisk together the vinegar and sugar for the cucumbers in a mixing bowl. When all the sugar has dissolved, place the sliced cucumber in the vinegar brine, and mix gently now and then, but otherwise leave it until it’s time to serve – about 30 minutes. When ready to serve, lift the cucumber out of the brine and serve in a bowl. (You can reuse the vinegar many times.)
Fifteen minutes before the chicken is done, take the cabbage and cut lengthways into 6 wedges. Rinse and drain, fry on all sides in butter in a frying pan until the edges are golden brown, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grate the nutmeg over the cabbage.
Carve the chicken into 8-10 pieces as you prefer and serve with potatoes, pickled cucumber and cabbage. A world-class meal.