Roast chicken: imagining balmy summer nights in Provence

As the gentle but persistent grey drizzle goes on outside my window, I am trying my hardest not to think about summer, or rather the summer we are not having in England at the moment. To cheer myself up, I decide, what the heck, I’m just going to pretend it’s summer, but staying warm and dry indoors rather than soggy and cold outdoors.

Summer feast

I imagine how a balmy night in say, Provence, would be like. I see a big wooden table laden with yummy food, set outside under a big tree. I see a group of friends gathering at sunset, glasses of rose in hand, laughing. The sun has been shining hard during the day, and it only gets cool enough to start feeling the hunger pangs as it gets dark. And just at the right moment, the hostess brings out a beautifully aromatic roast chicken, redolent of the aromas of tarragon and garlic.

And thus I channel summer…

Roast chicken
Roast chicken

Medium – large chicken (depending on how many you are serving)
A handful of tarragon
4 garlic cloves (more or less depending on how garlicky you like it)
1 lemon, cut into quarters
A glug of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 180 degree Celsius.

Blitz the tarragon, garlic, olive oil, seasoning and a good squeeze of lemon juice in a food processor. Rub the mixture into the cavity of the chicken and try to get as much of it under the skin as possible. One trick I have is to cut a slit in the skin between the legs and the body, to also get some of the mixture into the legs.

The rule of thumb for timing, according to Delia,  is 20mins per lb (450g).  To check that the chicken is done, stick a skewer through the deepest section to check that the juices run dry.  With a larger bird, you may need to take the chicken out, carve the top bits and then stick it back into the oven.  This ensures that you don’t end up with a bird that is half dry on the outside and half moist.

The juices from the chicken make a perfect sauce and are even better when moped up by a crusty piece of bread.

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