I can’t imagine very many pleasures greater than gorging myself on a perfectly roasted free range chicken; full on, tearing apart of legs and breasts and wings, grease from my beard-to-my-elbows-happiness, washed down with a perfect glass of burgundy.
That’s what this blog is about; everything that I love to eat, things I will happily spend hours or days making, for the simple joy of sitting down to eat something truly great. It doesn’t have to be restaurant food, there’s no need for the latest, newest, most whatever flavour combination or fad. Yuzus come and go, chefs hire and fire foragers; next year another restaurant will be at the top of the top 100 restaurant list and I will still be sitting at my dining table happily picking bits of chicken out of my teeth, trying to get a gravy stain out of my trousers.
And why not chicken with white wine? Well a good chicken has flavour. It should be strong, almost gamey in places. If it’s not then I probably don’t want to eat it. Red Burgundy, something about 5 years old goes perfectly with a good roast chicken. And recently I had my eyes opened after Goossens wijnen sent me a box of 6 red wines from all over France and Italy, all handpicked to be served with roast chicken.
So go out and spend 10 – 15 euros/pounds and get a great chicken. Follow the instructions below to cook it properly. I’m not saying this is the best recipe ever, but it’s a bloody good one that I use almost every week. Vive le poulet!
For the chicken:
- 1 whole free range chicken. I tend to buy the French label rouge variety because they’re excellent quality flavourful birds.
- Bunch of thyme
- Bulb of garlic
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
- Half a bottle of red wine, something like a Côtes du Rhône (this is for the sauce)
To serve; green salad, bread, whatever makes you happiest.
Release the bird from any string or trusses… these are to keep the bird compact so it cooks evenly; a process I’m not sure works well, and in any case I like all the skin to be crispy which doesn’t happen when tied. Trim off any extra flaps of skin around the cavity and neck. Cut off the parsons nose and the wing tips. Check inside the cavity; sometimes you get little gifts of bits of liver or young eggs. Get them out, then together with all the other trimmings put them in the bottom of a roasting dish.
Next, season well inside the cavity of the checking, then take a wedge of lemon, half the garlic and thyme and stuff this inside. Take another wedge of lemon, the rest of the garlic and thyme and arrange in the roasting tray. (you don’t need to peel and chop the garlic, but you can). add about 2 glasses of red wine, this will start the gravy.
Finally, place the chicken on top of everything else and cover liberally with butter. Season well.
Roast on 180 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. When done, lift the chicken up with a fork to let the juices run into the roasting dish, then transfer to aluminium foil and wrap well. This will rest and be beautifully juicy and soft by the time it’s served.
Now to make the gravy, baby. Place the roasting tray over a high heat and add the wine. Let this simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes. If you like it a bit thicker at this point you can add a little cornflour and whisk it in. Pass the gravy through a sieve and keep warm.
When ready to serve, pull the chicken off the bone in chunks, don’t carve it. Break the legs into two and serve in a big pile with gravy and sides of your choice.