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Thursday, 16 July 2015

My First Roast Chicken

I tagged along on a trip to Bath with my mum on Saturday and marched around all the places I wanted to visit in under two hours while she had lunch. It was great but I wish I'd had longer! I bought the most beautiful 21cm chef's knife made by I O Shen - the swirls along the handle aren't just decorative but help with the weight and balance of the knife. Then, I visited the amazing Foodie Bugle and chatted to the lovely owners, Silvana and John-Paul de Soissons about their beautiful and eclectic selection of kitchenware for sale. I purchased a pretty tile to take photos against, which is something I've been after for a long time, along with a Falcon enamel pie dish (for 2 potion lasagne in Poitiers) and their first printed magazine - it started out being online. My third and last stop was Richard Bertinet's bakery for some focaccia and a quiche for my supper. Once there I also couldn't resist one of his recipe books that focused just on bread recipes - an excellent find as I have enough cookbooks already that are half bread and half cake!

Last weekend I cooked my first roast chicken for the family using a Diana Henry recipe. My issue came when telling everyone that the plan was to try a new recipe as they just wanted their normal roast! After learning their list of food foibles, I ignored two (lemon and herbs) and came up with Henry's Chicken with Leeks and Dill. I fell at the first hurdle when Waitrose was out of dill (the horror!) and changed to parsley, which was lovely but very different to dill. If you want a simple, tasty and versatile dish then I can't recommend it enough. On the Monday my mum turned the leftover veg, sauce and stock into a soup with a few extra potatoes and is still raving about it now - "Lily, make sure you mention the soup, it was so good"! We served it with the mediterranean roast veg from this recipe (minus the chicken) as our guest was vegetarian; you could serve up whatever your favourite sides for roast chicken are.

Chicken with Parsley and Leeks

Oven at 200˚
Serves 6-8
Takes 2 hours to make


15g parsley (or dill)
75g soft butter (microwave for 10 seconds at a time if needed until soft)
Whole chicken, weighing about 2kg
1 lemon
500g new potatoes (Henry suggests waxy potatoes but I think new potatoes are easier and tastier)
4-5 leeks
4tbsp vermouth (mum splashed in a lot more!)
400ml chicken stock
4tbsp crème fraîche


Wash and roughly chop the parsley. Set half aside and mix the other half with the butter.
Place the chicken (take out any giblets first) in a very large roasting tin - the leeks and potatoes will go around it - and carefully lift up the skin on the breasts.
Place half the butter under the skin and push it as far down the breasts and legs as possible (it's not as nasty a job as I thought it would be). Smear the rest of the butter on top of the skin.
Squeeze the lemon over the chicken before chucking the halves into the cavity along with a few stalks of parsley.
Generously season the bird.
Cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
As the chicken begins to cook, slice the potatoes into rounds a centimetre thick and the leeks 4 centimetres in length (having topped and tailed them, don't forget to wash the leeks to get rid of any soil).
Bring the chicken out of the oven and scatter around the potatoes and leeks. Pour in the vermouth and stock.
Return to oven and reduce temperature to 180˚. Cook for a further hour.
Remove from the oven and check that it's cooked through (not pick, clear juices, if you want to get technical then an internal temperature of 70˚).
Place the chicken on a plate to rest whilst you prepare the sauce.
Either surround the chicken with the leeks and potatoes or place them in a separate bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
If tour roasting tray can go on the hob then leave the liquid in it, otherwise transfer to a pan.
Add the crème fraîche and whisk over a medium heat until incorporated (mine split but dad whisked it back together) and bubble until the sauce has reduced to about half the amount.
Get everything together to serve and tuck in!

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I love to cook and this blog follows my successes (and a few failures) in the kitchen. If you enjoy my posts, or think there is a problem with a recipe then please let me know