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Melissa Thompson’s roast chicken with garlic & tarragon butter
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Roast chicken cooked directly over potatoes is an elevated delight. The juices drip down and flavour what lies beneath, creating a beautiful harmony across the dish.
I always put butter under the skin of a chicken. It guarantees both moistness of the flesh and crispiness of skin. Here, the butter is mixed with roasted garlic and tarragon; a combination that sings with the fennel in the potatoes.
The addition of stock means your gravy is already made at the end of cooking. Easy, with maximum rewards. I serve this with broccoli, so the florets soak up all the juices.
1.5kg No.1 Free Range Corn Fed Whole Chicken
3 garlic bulbs
Cold pressed rapeseed oil, or extra virgin olive oil
1.5kg small new potatoes
1 tbsp fennel seeds
100g butter, softened
¼ x 20g pack tarragon sprigs, or to taste, leaves finely chopped
500g Cooks’ Ingredients Chicken Stock
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Remove the chicken from the fridge (no longer than 20 minutes before cooking), and set it aside while you prepare the garlic and potatoes. Peel any loose papery outer skin from each garlic bulb, but keep the bulb and all its cloves together. Place in a piece of tin foil just big enough to wrap around the bulbs, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Wrap the garlic then bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.
2. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes, then drain and leave in the colander to steam dry. Toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan until aromatic, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Once cool, pull the garlic bulbs apart and squeeze the garlic from its skin into a bowl. Add the butter, tarragon and 2 tsp ground black pepper and mix well.
4. Going in from the rear end of the chicken, gently push your hand under the skin that lies over the breast. Loosen as much skin as possible, including from above the top of the legs. Then push the butter into the gap, trying to fill as much space as possible without tearing the skin. Push out any air bubbles and pat the skin down. Any excess can go into the cavity, then rub the butter from your hands onto the top of the bird.
5. Put the potatoes into a large roasting tin. Add 1 tbsp oil and the fennel seeds, then mix to coat. Pour in the chicken stock, sit the chicken on top of the potatoes. Drizzle the chicken with more oil, season the skin with sea salt, then roast for 1 hour, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, the juices run clear and no pink meat remains.
6. Remove the chicken and potatoes from the oven, lift the chicken onto a tray and let it rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, turn the oven up to 230°C, gas mark 8. Spread the potatoes across the tray, then return to the hot oven for 10 minutes, to brown.
7. Carve the chicken, and serve with the potatoes, plus some broccoli and spoonfuls of the lovely buttery fennel and tarragon gravy.
Typical values per serving:
This recipe was first published in September 2021.