Roast chicken is I guess, the ultimate comfort food, and what is more, there are many variations - it need never be boring!
Here's a favourite supper style recipe, simple yet tantalisingly tasty, particularly when using a fine free-range chicken, not one of those awful supermarket birds.
For me the greatest taste/value combination comes from Label Anglais, however a white rock or cornish red would do just as well!
A word of warning - preparation starts the day before eating!
1 free range chicken - approx 1.8kg
12 anchovies in olive oil
12 garlic cloves
2 branches of rosemary
small bunch of tarragon
3 french shallots
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
The chicken is prepared the day before eating, giving the wonderful flavours of anchovy, garlic and rosemary time to penetrate into the meat of the bird. Remove the chicken from the fridge. Using a sharp knife, pierce the chicken at least a dozen times, including the legs.
Half lengthwise each of the anchovies and garlic cloves, and break the rosemary into little sprigs. Insert the anchovy half, garlic clove half and rosemary sprig into each opening. Cover the chicken with cling film and place back in the fridge overnight.
The following day remove the chicken and it's wrapping and allow the chicken to come back up to room temperature - allow at least 1 hour for this.
Meanwhile, chop the tarragon leaves and the shallots, place in a bowl and mix with the creme fraiche. Stir and mix well. Now stuff the chicken with the mixture. Rub a little olive oil over the chicken, season predominantly with the black pepper, but perhaps just a little salt (remember the anchovies will bring a saltiness to the chicken)
Pre-heat the oven to 230 C. Place the chicken in the oven and cook at the high temperature for 15 minutes, before reducing the temperature to 170 C and cooking for a further hour. After the hour, check the chicken to see if the juices are clear on the thigh, if not put back in for another few minutes.
When cooked thoroughly, remove from the oven and place on a serving plate to rest. The chicken will smell amazing, I promise you!
Whip up a quick sauce with the chicken juices in the bottom of the roasting dish by adding a good splash of wine and/or chicken stock and scraping up all the good bits. Reduce over a high heat, strain and serve separately.
This is the perfect supper dish served with chunky crusty bread or perhaps some steamed vegetables. The tarragon stuffing compliments the rosemary, garlic and anchovy flavours wonderfully.