Maximum flavour, easy to cook… This is a great tasty dinner for friends and got a vote for Best Dinner of the Year at Castle Farm last week. Once it’s in the oven you can just chill out and chat with friends whilst it cooks, it’ll benefit from an occasional baste whilst you top up the drinks but that’s it.
Herby Roast Chicken
1 large chicken, preferably free range
1 tbl chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbl chopped fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
50g butter, room temperature
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
2 red onions, peeled and chopped into quarters
3 carrots, halved lengthways
4 sticks of celery
2 tbl balsamic vinegar
2 tbl cranberry or quince jelly
2 tbl chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbl chopped fresh thyme
Maybe a little more salt and pepper
Get the butter out of the fridge in advance so it’s nice and easy to mush up.
Put the soft butter into a bowl. Finely chop your rosemary and thyme and garlic. Grate the skin of the lemon to get the yellow zesty stuff. Juice the lemon. Combine all the herbs, lemon, salt & pepper with the butter and mash it about until it’s reasonably mixed up. I’ve never yet managed to get all the lemon juice to mix in, but it doesn’t matter. This is rustic cooking 🙂
When you’ve got your butter mix ready, time to do a little number on your chicken. First step is to gently lift the chicken breast skin away from the chicken meat. Frankly, this is a bit of a fiddle but you’ll find a place to start near the neck or the other end… Just take your time and create your own technique.
Once you’ve created space between skin and meat, push the butter mix into that space and squidge it around to cover the whole of the top of the chicken. Any leftover lemon juice, pour it in too and splash some over the skin.
Put the carrots, celery and onions into a roasting tray, pop the chicken on top and it goes in the Aga roasting oven – uncovered – for about 1 – 1.5 hours till the leg juices run clear. For conventional ovens, put it in at 200C for 90-100 minutes until leg juices run clear.
The chicken will need at least 15 minutes rest at the end of cooking – take it out of the oven, drain off the tray juices into a saucepan then cover the chicken (e.g. foil with tea towels over the top) to keep it warm whilst the juices all settle back into the meat.
Whilst it’s resting, you can make the gravy. Add all the gravy ingredients in to the saucepan of chicken juices. Bring it up to boil then simmer for a few minutes. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve with roasted spuds and a few extra fresh seasonal veg, then just add friends. This’ll feed about 6 of them, with just a little bit left for the cat.