Air Fryer Roast Chicken, Gravy & Spring-Onion Mash
This week's recipe is a super simple way to make a firm family favourite in what is quickly becoming a firm favourite gadget in the Man Cave Fire kitchen.
I had a request from one of our readers Astrid to do more air fryer recipes so as your wish is our command at MCF I thought we'd come right out of the gate with a classic crowd pleaser. This cheeky chicken dish would make Colonel Sanders slap his mother.
I'll open with a confession, up until the last few years my roast chicken game has been seriously sub par.
Why? Edwina Currie. Who Is Edwina Currie? Well I'm glad you asked.
Edwina Currie is a UK ex-politician-cum-Z list celebrity who is most famous for demonising eggs, chicken recipes and poultry in general. Back in the 80's when a perm was still considered a good thing and Def Leppard dominated the music scene, young Edwina was Junior Health Minister in the UK Conservative Political Party.
She "resigned" from her position in 1988 after issuing public health warnings over the humble egg, more precisely that all eggs and the chickens they came out of were ladened with Salmonella which would most certainly kill you. her instructions were that any level of undercooking of eggs or poultry would almost certainly mean sudden death.
Now in 1988 I was 12 years old. I was young, stunningly handsome (ahem) with a full and exciting life ahead of me, the world was literally my oyster. I was too young to die and Edwina is in the government, she must know what she's talking about, she's Health Minister for Pete's sake. I must listen to my government and cook all and any trace of moisture out of my chicken. Only then could I be sure I wouldn't kill my family and myself in some kind of poultry based mass poisoning.
Ask not what your government can do for you, ask what you can do for your government!
Shortly after, Edwina was unceremoniously "Relieved" of her position for her abject bullying of poultry and generally making the government look like a set of unused tools. A few years later she wrote a book which revealed she had a four year affair with then Prime Minister of the UK John Major, the same PM who (coincidentally) appointed her. This vomit-inducing revelation then propelled her into an after-life of cheesy game shows and desperate acts to reignite her fame which even included her releasing a cover version of the Wham! hit "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" (I'f you've seen John Major, you will see the abject irony in that) It made it to the heady heights of number 64 in the UK pop chart. The last nail in her fowl-hating career was as a contestant on "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here" she finished fourth and then fortunately for ducks, geese and chickens across the land, faded into obscurity.
However, the fear that woman instilled in a 12 year old boy was to last a further 30 years. Chicken was to be a dish served dry, stringy and tough. The solution? Gravy, and lots of it.
My torment and affliction was finally alleviated by the humble air fryer after discovering you can absolutely have soft, succulent, juicy chicken and crispy skin with minimal risk of dying from a bacterial infection.
The gravy however had to stay, I'm from the North Of England, it's the law. But no longer was it designed to cover up my dirty secret. No, it adds to the cacophony of chickeny goodness resulting in the perfect midweek comfort dish.
And now; I am freed of my "fowl" affliction (oof!), praise the poultry gods!
OK, I'll get a hold of myself, let's just say I've been "Egg-sorcised" of my Edwina Currie demons, (Sorry, I just couldn't stop myself with that one).
With the oversharing of my inner torment aside, let's get to the cooking. This recipe could not be easier, is ready in less than an hour with minimal intervention and is guaranteed to be a solid win with the fam. This is a once weekly staple in our house now and is super versatile for changing and adaptation to your mood or the ingredients at hand.
Ingredients (Serves 2 hungry adults with leftovers for soup)
1 Whole Chicken - Think about the size of your Air Fryer basket here, you don't want to have to break limbs mafia style to get it to fit. Other than that, buy the best you can afford, it will be worth it and please go Free Range if you can.
2 to 3 Large Potatoes chopped into equal sized chunks- I really don't focus too much on which potatoes to use for mash but if that's your thing, Maris Pipers or King Edwards are good.
3 Spring Onions - Finely chopped
2 Chicken Stock Cubes
Garlic Salt - This is my favourite but any kind of dry rub will work e.g. BBQ, Peri Peri, Lemon & Herb etc.
Plenty of butter - Not a technical measurement I know but it is a matter of taste, the more you use the better it will taste (a harsh reality). Make sure you have at least half a block on hand.
Cooking Oil - Any kind will do, Olive, sunflower, vegetable, canola etc.
Salt & Pepper
On a clean chopping board, place your chicken breast side up. Pour a drop of oil onto the chicken and massage it all over, get right in there!
Sprinkle your garlic salt / dry rub all over the chicken so it's well coated. twist a liberal dose of black pepper if you're going the garlic salt route.
Place the chicken in the air fryer basket breast side down and place back in the air fryer
Wash your hands thoroughly and then rinse the chopping board and any utensils that have touched the chicken and set them aside so they won't be used again until after a full cleaning (I hate you Edwina Currie!)
Set the air fryer temperature to 180c / 350f and the timer for 30 minutes - start cooking
Put your potatoes into heavily salted boiling water and boil for 10 to 15 minutes until a knife can cut through them with minimal effort.
Once cooked, drain the potatoes and leave in the colander for a couple of minutes until all the liquid has drained.
Whilst the potatoes are draining, return the pan to the heat and drop in the spring onions along with 2 tablespoons of butter. Lightly fry the spring onions in the butter for 2 minutes.
turn off the heat and put the potatoes back into the pan. With a potato masher, mash the potato-spring onion-butter mixture until smooth. If it feels too thick, add another tablespoon of butter.
Add salt and pepper, tasting and adding until you get to the seasoning level you like. Set the potatoes aside.
By now, your chicken should have finished it's first half hour. Remove the fryer basket and flip the chicken over so it's breast side up. Cook at 180c / 350f for a further 20 minutes.
Whilst your chicken is on it's second cook, it's time to make the gravy. Put the kettle on to boil.
Add the two chicken stock cubes and pour over boiling water to make up around 500ml / 1 pint of chicken stock
in a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of cornflour and heat on high, stirring with a wooden spoon or whisk. Heat until the butter has melted, mixed with the cornflour and is bubbling and deep brown-yellow in colour, don't stop stirring or it will burn.
Add around 1/3 of the chicken stock and continue to stir on high heat until it becomes a super-thick brown gravy.
Add another 1/3 of the stock to your gravy and continue to stir until it thickens.
If the thickness is now to your liking, leave on the lowest possible heat to keep warm, otherwise, add the remaining chicken stock until you get a consistency you like and then leave in the lowest heat.
Add a very generous amount of black pepper and stir in. Do not add salt at this stage.
Now your chicken should have completed its second cook. Inspect your chicken and if the skin is crispy then you can set it aside to rest, if not, give it a further 10 minutes at your highest heat (usually 200c / 390f) then set aside to rest.
Rest your chicken on something that you can catch the juices e.g. a baking tray with a rack if possible. if you don't have one, a plate will be fine.
Whilst your chicken is resting, put the heat under your potatoes to bring them back up to piping hot. Keep stirring them so they don't burn, the butter will protect them.
before carving the chicken, take the juices you've saved and add them to your gravy, taste the gravy and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Serve in a pasta bowl. Put your carved chicken on top of a nice pile of your spring onion mash and ladle over your chicken gravy, add a little extra crispy chicken skin on top for a cheffy flourish.
Top Tricks & Tips
Obviously the size of your chicken could change cooking times which is why I have the optional extra 10 minutes at the end. To get the perfect cook on your chicken, push a cooks thermometer into the fleshiest part of the bird (usually in the thigh, go right down to the bone) after the second cook and then cook until you achieve an internal temperature of at least 75c / 156f. This is when the chicken is at its absolute best and is cooked right through. I have found the recipe to be pretty much perfect on my Philips classic Air Fryer based on a chicken that fills my basket without the need for a thermometer.
Try not to skip adding the meat juices to the gravy, it give a great savoury chicken note from the burnt rub. If your Air Fryer was perfectly clean for this cook, you can also drain the juices from the fryer basket, and separate the oil from the juices. It may be an extra step but you won't regret it.
This goes great with boiled carrots or broccoli. I'm a massive cauliflower cheese fan but it all gets a bit rich and soupy with the gravy and cheese sauce.
It's no secret that everything tastes better with bacon so don't be afraid to add a couple of rashers of bacon on the first cook (Breast side down) and then chop them up for a crunchy sprinkle to add to the final dish.
Don't throw away the chicken carcass, use it to make our hug-in-a-bowl chicken soup the next day.
This recipe can easily be changed up by changing the sides and rub, if you're not feeling like garlic flavour with mash, how about:
BBQ rub with baked potato and coleslaw
Chinese 5 spice with special fried rice
Italian Style Rub with EggPlant/Aubergine Parmigiana Stacks
Spice Mexican Rub served in Tacos with Pico De Gallo lime mayo and grilled corn.