Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Bay Roast Chicken

This way of cooking roast chicken brings a real taste of spring to the table and a great Easter Sunday alternative to the traditional leg of lamb. The fresh new bay leaves add a light fragrance to the meat, a flavour the leaves loose later in the year as the plant matures - so it's really only now that you can add this taste to your food. Perfect for the Easter holidays.

I use bay leaves a lot, dried in the winter and fresh during the rest of the year. We have a small bay tree just outside the kitchen door in a pot and a larger tree further down the garden. So it's easy just to lean out of the door to grab a few leaves. This recipe however, call for a few young sprigs of bay so unless you have your own mature tree, or a largest one in a pot, you might have to beg a few sprigs from a friend or neighbour - unfortunately shops only sell the leaves and these are usually dried. You can substitute dried leaves for this dish but the flavour will be deeper and you will only need to use a few leave.

Recipe - enough for 4

1 whole chicken approx 1½ kg
1 lemon
1 onion
head garlic
two thin slices cold butter
Sprigs of young bay tree - approx 3 or 4
1 teaspoon rainbow peppercorns (green, red, white and black peppercorn mix)
olive oil
salt and pepper
Glass white wine

A length of kitchen string

Pre-heat oven to 200C/Gas 6

Take the chicken and remove any elastic ties and packaging it has. Dab over with a paper towel to remove any wetness and leave it to air dry for about ten minutes or so - I find this helps to make a crispier skin when roasting.

Whilst this is happening you can prepare the rub for the skin. Grind up the peppercorns with 2 cloves of garlic. Add approx a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Mix to form an oily paste.

Pick out two of the larges bay leaves and loosen the skin over the breast. Place a slice of butter and a bay leaf under the skin on each side. Smooth the skin back down and rub the the peppercorn mix over the breast and into the skin - pay special attention to the thigh meat.

Cut the lemon in half and the onion into quarters. Place these, along with a sprig of bay and a few garlic cloves into the cavity. Take the ends of the legs and tie them together with the string. This helps to keep the chicken moist whilst it's cooking.

Tuck the remaining garlic cloves (unpeeled) and bay sprigs under the chicken - then pop in the oven, uncovered for about 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven and baste with all the garlicy juices now in the bottom of the pan and then continue to cook for another 45 minutes.

Once the chicken is cooked remove from the pan and place on a heated serving dish along with the garlic cloves and onion.

Make a simple sauce with the juices in the pan. Drain off any excess fat from the tin and place over a high heat. Once it's bubbling add the wine and scrape up the sticky bits in the bottom. Allow it to reduce slightly and then pour into a warm jug to serve.

I like to serve this chicken with either a large green salad or steamed spring vegetables - broccoli spears, asparagus or spring greens along with a big bowl of new potatoes.

Have a lovely day
Love Lizx

 Bay Roast Chicken