Tuesday, 3 June 2014


wishboneDid you know that merrythought is the old English name for a wishbone? Do children still pull wishbones after eating roast chicken dinners– or has that custom vanished?

Bob’s cousin had a vast collection of wishbones [furculae is the Latin term, I believe] from dozens of different sorts of birds, all stored in a specially made wooden case. In fact, when he died, this collection even got mentioned in his obituary in The Times!  I don’t think he’d eaten all the birds himself [some wishbones were quite exotic, and came from the local wildlife park] – but there was certainly at least one chicken bone in the case.

delia frugal foodWe had chicken at the weekend. I’d picked up this book in a CS in Dereham, for just £1, and there was a recipe for Chicken Pot Roast. I’d tried Delia’s Chicken In The Pot from her cookery course, a few years ago [that one included mushrooms and chorizo] This frugal version was just as good – although my chicken had no giblets, and I couldn’t find my bayleaves [I used some homegrown sage instead]

Ingredients [serves 4]

    • A 1.6kg roasting chicken
    • Butter
    • 1 large-ish onion, peeled and stuck with 3 cloves
    • 4 leeks, trimmed and washed
    • 4 carrots, scraped
    • 4 sticks of celery, halved
    • A few parsley stalks
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 clove garlic, crushed
    • Seasoning
    • 2tbsp chopped parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/gas mark 8.
  2. First rub the inside of the chicken with seasoning and a little butter. Then place the onion stuck with cloves inside the chicken and rub some butter and seasoning over the outside.
  3. Now put the chicken in a roasting tin and bake in the top half of the oven for about 30 minutes, by which time it should have developed a nice golden brown skin.
  4. Then remove it from the oven and transfer it, together with any juices, to a deep pot. Surround the chicken with the vegetables, herbs and garlic, and pour over sufficient water to not quite cover the bird, adding the giblets as well.
  5. Bring to boiling point and simmer very gently with the lid on for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is tender, then remove the chicken and vegetables and keep warm.
  6. Now discard the giblets and boil the remaining stock briskly until it has reduced and the flavour has concentrated. Carve the chicken on to a serving dish, add the vegetables, spoon some of the juices over, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve. Any stock left over can be used for soup.


Sorry – we had eaten it before I remembered to take a picture. Mine did look very like this one though [except my Le Creuset Casserole is orange] Bob felt there was a little too much celery for his liking. Otherwise he pronounced it very tasty!


  1. Dinner looks tasty

  2. Sounds good!!! And thanks for your email. I will reply when at my computer x

  3. I remember reading a story book when I was a child and the girls in the story used to turn the wishbones which they too called 'merry thoughts' into miniature dolls.

  4. My Grandmother use to save all the wishbones , paint them silver , thread them up into a little wreath with ribbons to give to the Bride at our family weddings for good wishes and good luck ! : )

  5. This chicken dish sounds absolutely delicious and I love celery so it would be fine with me. Unfortunately I cannot manage the whole dead raw chicken handling or the orthopaedic surgery nature of wrestling my dinner from a cooked carcass. This is a serious limitation for a chicken loving person. I'm a wuss and I know it.

  6. Our granddaughters still like to pull the wishbone. The chicken looks delicious!


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