When you’re trying to host a special occasion you want to keep everything as stress free and easy as possible. In other words you need a dish that lets the ingredients do the talking, that has elements that can be prepared in advance, and that you can simply stick in the oven for most of the cook.
This dish is simply sublime. Tarragon, lemon, butter and chicken are a classical combination, and with good reason. This dish is so much more than it’s constituent parts. Equally at home with roast potatoes or mash, or even buttery fondant potatoes, this is a real winner.
Tarragon and Lemon Roast Chicken
- large roasting tray with trivet or rack
- food processor
- 1 large free range chicken approx 1.7kg
- 1 large lemon zest and juice
- 1 bunch tarragon leaves stripped and roughly chopped
- 200 g unsalted butter softened
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 medium onions roughly chopped
- 2 medium leeks roughly chopped
- 3 medium carrots roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery roughly chopped
- 350 ml white wine
- 5 tbsp plain flour
- 2 piece chicken stockpot
- freshly ground salt and pepper
- 3 sprigs Thyme
- Remove the chicken from the fridge, and any packaging, and allow to stand at room temperature for about half an hour to remove the chill.
- Put the butter, the tarragon, the lemon juice and a good few twists of salt and pepper into the food processor, and blend until a smooth paste. Try not to over process.
- Preheat oven to 230C, 210C fan, gas mark 8.
- Place the roughly chopped veg, skin and all, plus the garlic, into the bottom of the roasting tray. Place rack or trivet over.
- Using your fingers, loosen the chicken skin away from the breast meat, starting at the top (leg end), and gradually work to the other end. Push the butter mix into the cavity, and gently rub to distribute evenly. Don't worry if the skin breaks.
- Stand the chicken on the rach, then brush the chicken lightly with oil, then season well with salt and pepper. Rub a few sprigs of thyme over the top as well. Slice the lemon into thick slices and place across the top, then sprinkle over the zest.
- Roast on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, before turning the temperature down to 200C, 180C fan, gas mark 6. Cook for a further hour.
- Set out a piece of cooking foil, shiny side up, large enough to wrap the entire chicken. Remove from the oven, and lift the chicken up, letting any juices dribble back into the tin, and place on foil. Wrap well, place a tea towel over the top, and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
- Remove the trivet or rack, and place the roasting pan over a medium heat on the stove top. Pour in the white wine, and using a wooden spoon, stir and work loose any caught bits from the bottom.
- Sprinkle over the flour, stirring all the while. Allow to dissolve, and then to thicken, trying to keep the mixture as smooth as possible.
- Add the stockpots, and then gradually add in water, half a cup at a time, allowing to come back to a simmer and to thicken each time. When at the required consistency whilst bubbling, turn down the heat to a low simmer, and cook out for a further 5 minutes.
- Place a colander over a large saucepan, and gradually strain the gravy mixture through. Return to the heat, season to taste, and keep warm
- Cut the legs away from the chicken, and joint these with a sharp knife between the thigh and drumstick. Run the knife down the sides of the breast bone, and work the entire breast off the chicken. Carve into thick slices.