You may not know this about me but I used to be a ‘pescatarian,’ meaning that I didn’t eat any meat but was happy to eat seafood. It was during what I like to refer to as my ‘Buddhist Phase’. Wearing colourful fisherman’s pants, reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and attempting to meditate also featured heavily during this phase. Then in 2007 after partying for three days in a very non-Buddhist fashion at Meredith Music Festival, I returned home to find that mum had cooked roast chicken for dinner. This wholesome, comforting meal tipped me over the edge back into the realm of full-blown carnivorism. I’ve been happy with this decision ever since and look back on my non-eating-of-meat days with bewilderment. I have nothing against vegetarians, and I do think everyone should have non-eating-of-meat-days, but just not more than several in a row. ; )
Comfort food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and it’s different for everyone. My standard comfort food dish is steamed rice with soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil. Simple, honest, delicious (and vegetarian!). But when my mum is cooking for me and I get to choose what’s for dinner, it’s roast chicken with all the trimmings every time. This roast chook recipe is inspired by two of the greatest women going around, my mum and Maggie Beer. Maggie introduced me to the classic pairing of chicken and tarragon, holy moly if you have not tried this combination you must try it immediately if not sooner. Mum taught me the ins and outs of how to make a good roast and her stuffing recipe is the bomb. I hope that this recipe makes you feel like you’ve just been hugged! Enjoy x
PS: A special mention to the talented and lovely Ewen Bell for the photography and food styling in this post. Thanks Ewen!
Tarragon Butter Roast Chicken
What’s In It:
1.5 – 2kg free-range chicken
1/2 cup fresh tarragon
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon garlic, grated
1 small lemon, zest only
Red shallots, skin removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed
1 tablespoon of mixed herbs thyme, tarragon, rosemary, dried or fresh
2 slices of bacon, finely diced (optional)
Sea salt, to season
Black pepper, to season
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 litre homemade chicken stock (homemade stock will make all the difference in the flavour of your gravy, if you don’t have this, use salt-reduced stock)
How You Make It:
- Preheat fan-forced oven to 220 degrees
- Rinse chicken under running water then pat dry with paper towel
- In a small food processor place tarragon, butter, garlic and lemon zest and blitz for 10 – 20 seconds to combine. Season with salt.
- Using your fingers carefully lift the skin of the chicken off the breast and some of the drumstick, so that you can wedge your fingers underneath being careful not to tear or rip the skin. Place the tarragon butter mixture under the skin, fitting in as much as possible. Massage the top of the skin with extra butter and salt.
- To make stuffing, place bread and herbs in a food processor and blitz until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in bacon and season with salt and pepper. Fill the cavity of the chicken with the stuffing.
- In a large bowl place all vegetables and toss with olive oil and salt to coat evenly.
- Place chicken in a roasting pan, tuck wings underneath the chicken, arrange vegetables around chicken or on separate roasting pan then bake in oven for 15 minutes or until chicken skin is golden. Lower heat to 180 degrees and cook for a further 60 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven and cover chicken with tin foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving. Remove stuffing from chicken to serve.
- To make gravy use the juices from roasting pan or cook gravy in the roasting pan itself, place on medium – high heat on stovetop, add flour and chicken stock and allow to reduce until thickened. Serve hot with roast chicken, stuffing and vegetables.
- Blanch green beans in boiling water then drizzle with olive oil and slivered almonds to serve
- To check if chicken is cooked through, place a thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and if it reaches 67 degrees it’s cooked, alternatively if pierce meat with a skewer if there are no pink juices it’s also cooked.