roast chicken with mustard and cumin (sixth simple pleasure)

19 Jul

Do what you do. Love what you do.

Find the thing that makes you smile. It really is that simple.

Consider a fancy degree and shrug. Consider all the disadvantages: early mornings, ugly shoes, a permanent coating of flour. And jump up and down with excitement anyway.

Make a pros and cons list and screw it up. Work with your visceral reaction. What does your stomach tell you? Does your choice fill you with energy or make you nauseous?

Does it scare you? Then it is probably what you really want.

Do you know where it will lead? Does it matter if it makes you smile? Like running, you pick a tree in the distance and aim for it. When you arrive, you pick another tree. You keep going.

For me, at the moment, it really is that bloody simple. I am going to keep running. I am going to be a pâtissière. You can find me in a little boutique in Montmartre, covered in flour and full of joy.


(It might seem odd to offer a recipe for roast chicken instead some high-faluting dessert. But pastry people’s trousers are called pied de poule, chicken feet.

And this is the most beautiful thing I have made recently: crackly savoury skin ten times better than the simple mustard-spice marinade I stirred together. Peppery outsides, juicy insides. Two minutes preparation. Guaranteed to make you smile.)


Roast chicken with mustard and cumin

serves 4

4 whole chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs) skin on

2 tbs dijon mustard

4 tbs crème fraiche

3 tbs olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp crushed black pepper

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

Preheat oven to 180C. Cover a large oven tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl, mix together everything but the chicken. Don’t be afraid to use more mustard as the taste fades slightly when baked. Drop two chicken legs into the bowl and slather all over with the mustard sauce. Be generous – there should be a thick layer like a ladies’ face mask, not like a layer of suncream. Place the legs on the tray and repeat. (Make some more sauce if there isn’t enough left.)

With the legs evenly spaced out on the tray, put it in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. The skin should be a dark crackly brown; if you poke the insides with a sharp knife, the juices should run clear.

Serve immediately, with a grated carrot salad dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and fresh bread to soak up the last drops.

12 Responses to “roast chicken with mustard and cumin (sixth simple pleasure)”

  1. Tizzy July 19, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    This is my favourite so far – coupled with your ever present words of wisdom. Miss you Franks, Tizzy xxx

    • sunflowerchild11 July 19, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

      Thank-you chickadee. Nice to know you’re reading. Much love xxx

  2. Andrew Black July 23, 2011 at 5:47 am #

    “Does it scare you? Then it is probably what you really want.”

    You are so wise! I’m excited by your decision and determination!

    • sunflowerchild11 July 23, 2011 at 10:18 am #

      Thank-you very much, that means a lot to me. Fingers crossed!

  3. Bill Sewell July 27, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    Hi Frances,

    just off to buy chicken legs in Widemarsh st to try this. Will report back,

    Great party at the weekend – big thank you. And it’s got us all obsessed with croquet.


  4. Bill Sewell September 5, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    Hi Frances,

    Our extended family is becoming taken over by your chicken recipe. We made a version at Laliouie which the cousins loved and they’ve emailed me saying they’ve made it in Yorkshire and we made another one back at home on Saturday, a kind of Indian version which is very yummy:

    Alternative goo/marinade for 1.75kg of chicken bits:

    150ml wholemilk yoghurt
    2 tsp salt
    3 massive cloves garlic, crushed
    1 dsp cumin seeds, 2 dsp coriander seeds; 1 tsp chilli flakes (all dry roast and ground)
    2 dsp ground turmeric

    • sunflowerchild11 September 5, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

      Fantastic! Tumeric and garlic, can’t go wrong! (Did you know French people do not recognise garlic bread? Must be an English bastardisation!)

  5. Shauna Reid (@shauna) August 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Found my way back to this one, now to find the chook legs… yum! 🙂


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