There is something immensely soothing and satisfying about roasting a chicken. It gives me the kind of warm zen inner calm other people seem to get from yoga. Yoga, on the other hand, I find intensely stressful. There is nothing calming about discovering that you can count breathing among the many things you have yet to master after thirty years on the planet. Cooking a roast is one of those things that also makes a place feel like a home. The commitment to cooking something to share, the delicious smell slowly filling the kitchen, lounging around reading (ok, fine, napping) while you wait for it to cook, it all makes a place really seem like your own. This is a beautiful, simple recipe from Diana Henry. It is easy to throw together, and is a whole meal in itself. The active time is about 15 minutes, but you have a wonderful, impressive dish to share at the end.
This serves 4 by itself, you could stretch it to 6 with some extra side dishes and bread.
- 1.5kg chicken
- 1 bunch of fresh dill
- 75g unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1 lemon
- 500g waxy potatoes, peeled
- 500g leeks (2-3 leeks)
- 3 shallots
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 400ml chicken stock
- 3-4 tbsp dry vermouth or white wine
- 4 tbsp crème fraîche
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Remove the fronds from the dill and finely chop (keep the stems for stuffing the chicken).
- Mix the butter with half the chopped dill.
- Carefully lift the skin of the chicken breast and legs, and smooth half the butter under it.
- Spread the remaining butter over the chicken skin and season well.
- Place in a deep roasting tin or flameproof casserole.
- Squeeze the lemon over the chicken and put the lemon halfs into the cavity, together with the dill stalks.
- Roast for 20 minutes at 200C.
- Meanwhile, slice the leeks and potatoes, and bring the stock to the boil.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, lift it up, and place the leeks and potatoes underneath (this is ideally a two person job).
- Pour the stock and wine in, season the leeks and potatoes, and return to the oven at 180C for one hour.
- Remove from the oven.
- If the stock hasn’t reduced enough (mine hadn’t), remove the chicken and place on a warm platter or additional tin and cover with tinfoil.
- Place the oven dish on the stove and boil for 10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce.
- Add the creme fraiche and mix.
- Place the chicken back on top, add the remaining fresh dill and serve.