Roast beef and pork with strips of tooth-shatteringly crispy crackling are all very well, but after a while I always end up with a craving for roast chicken. Maybe it’s something about it being a whole animal, or the seemingly wider range of opportunities for leftovers — who knows?
We’d spotted a sign in our local butchers advertising Herb Fed chickens, and since I already had a hankering for a roast chicken that Sunday, we picked one up. When I opened the package, I was struck by the distinct aroma of herbs. This faded a little after a while, but could still be detected if you went looking for it.
To cook the chicken, I adapted the Mothership recipe from Save With Jamie, but added a layer of herb butter beneath the skin. I served it with a side dish of braised lettuce, leeks and peas, aiming for a fresh summery feel.
– 2 kg chicken
– Mixed soft herbs, e.g. basil, mint, tarragon, etc
– Softened butter
– 1 kg Potatoes
– garlic cloves
– White wine (a couple of glasses)
– 750g of carrots, peeled and roughly chopped into chunks
– 2 leeks
– Lettuce (a head of Romaine, or 2 heads of Little Gem)
– 250g frozen peas
– 400 ml of stock for the vegetables, 400ml for the gravy
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
2. Peel the potatoes and cut up if large. Parboil them in salted water for 10-15 minutes. Drain, replace in the saucepan and shake to rough up the edges.
3. Put the prepared carrots in an oven-proof dish, dot with butter and season with salt and pepper.
4. Finely chop all the herbs and mix with the butter. Carefully push it up under the skin of the chicken and rub any leftovers over the top of the skin. Season with salt and pepper and stick in a roasting tin. Roast for 1 hour 30 minutes.
5. After the chicken has been roasting for 20 minutes, put the goose fat in another roasting tin and stick it in the oven to get hot. After it’s melted, add the roast potatoes and shake them up to coat with the hot fat. Put it back into the oven, along with the carrots.
6. That can all be forgotten about for the next hour or so. Now you’re free to have a glass of wine, tidy up the kitchen (yeah, right) or start on the greens if you want to get ahead of yourself.
.7. About 20 minutes, before the chicken is ready to come out, slice the leeks and sweat in a large pan for around 15-20 minutes.
8. After the chicken has been roasting for an hour and a half remove from the oven. Transfer to a platter to rest, which gives you about 15 minutes or so to finish the greens and make the gravy. Put the roasting tin on the hob and sprinkle in a tbsp of plain flour. Stir, scraping up all the bits, then add a glass of white wine and let it bubble for a bit. Add the stock a little at a time, simmering, until the gravy is the consistency you want. Season to taste, then sieve into a jug. Let it settle and skim off the fat if you want.
9. While the gravy is bubbling away, finish off the side dish by adding the stock (replace some of the stock with wine, if you want, assuming you haven’t already drunk it all). Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the chopped lettuce and frozen peas. Simmer for 5 minutes, then season to taste.
10. By this time, the vegetables should be ready. Carve the chicken. Serve.