Roast chicken and stuffing is possibly the best example - in this kitchen anyway - of KISS (keep it simple stupid).
You see my Other Half was pretty convinced that only Paxo could make good stuffing for roasted birds. So on Christmas Day, much against my better judgement, we had a packet stuffing to please He Who Would Like to Be Obeyed. It was okay but it didn't please the smaller more demanding palate (ie my eldest daughter) who, for her ninth birthday, insisted I make home made stuffing for her roast chicken.
I love a good stuffing (stop giggling at the back...) and I'm a big fan of Delia's chunky American style Christmas turkey stuffing and her chestnut stuffing. OH (foolishly) dislikes both. Actually it's not really a dislike, they just disappoint him, which is possibly worse.
So for Sunday's birthday lunch it was back to the drawing board. I consulted Delia, Tana, Gordon, Nigel, Nigella, Sarah Raven and (finally) Rachel Allen. In her Home Cooking book she has a simple sage and onion stuffing with variations.
"Oooh chorizo stuffing," I said to the OH, thinking of the lovely garlicky paprika aroma that would bring to the roasted result.
"No," said OH.
So I applied the KISS principle. Straightforward sage, onion and breadcrumbs stuffing.
I followed Rachel's recipe which was to soften a chopped onion and a clove of garlic in a big lump of butter and a glug of olive oil and mix that with 100g of white breadcrumbs and come chopped sage and thyme from the garden. I put the result into a bowl and looked at it alongside my 2.4kg chicken. It looked insufficient.
So, dredging up long-lost memories of family roast dinners and the things my mother used to make, I remembered her method which was to chuck everything - slices of bread, onion, herbs, butter, sea salt, pepper - into her Kenwood blender and blitz. I used my food processor and the result was a pleasing stuffing mix which clumped nicely together.
I made pockets in the bird's breast and tucked most of the stuffing in there and the neck and there was still more, so I popped a fist-sized amount into the bird's cavity. (Writing all this seems a little like writing culinary porn...)
I roasted the bird (two hours, gas mark 5) and the result? Fabulous. A huge hit with everyone and decreed 'nearly' as good as school's* by the birthday girl.
So another kitchen lesson learned. KISS applies to stuffing birds too and (probably, but don't tell her...) mother knows best.
*School dinners set a very high standard here (Jamie take note).