This is a really simple roast chicken with some lovely light flavours; it goes perfectly with the brussels sprouts. A little trick I use when resting roast chicken, or any meat, is to cover it with foil and place two tea towels over it. This really helps keep in the warmth during the resting. It's important to rest, as you don't want the chicken completely cooked when it leaves the oven. The time under the foil with the tea towels allows the chook to slowly finish cooking through, a step that will keep it moist and juicy. I promise that with all the meat and poultry you cook, resting for 15 minutes will give a much better texture and taste. It's also important to bring large pieces of meat and poultry closer to room temperature before you cook them, to help them cook more evenly and faster. If you aren't a sprout lover, try the same recipe with green beans; it's awesome, like anything with bacon.
Roast chicken with lemon, herbs and creme fraiche
1.2kg free-range chicken
300ml creme fraiche
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
1 tbsp chopped thyme
1 tbsp chopped oregano
½ tbsp chopped sage
½ tbsp chopped marjoram
½ tbsp finely grated lemon zest
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Take chicken out of the fridge for at least an hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 180C.
3. Mix creme fraiche with the remaining ingredients. Spoon half the mixture inside the chicken cavity then truss the chicken. Spread remaining mixture on top of the chicken. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting tin. Pour about a quarter of a cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Place in oven and roast for about an hour, until juices run clear. Keep an eye on the base of the roasting tin and add a little more water if needed.
4. Remove from oven and rest on a plate covered with foil. Place roasting tin on the stove over a low heat and scrape off any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Reduce if needed.
5. Carve the chicken and serve at the table with pan roasting juices.
Chestnuts, speck and brussels sprouts. Photo: William Meppem
Chestnuts, speck and brussel sprouts
300g raw chestnuts
300g brussel sprouts
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
about 1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp finely shredded flat-leaf parsley leaves
1. Preheat oven to 220C.
2. Using a sharp paring knife, score a cross on the side of each chestnut. Cook in boiling salted water for 10 minutes then drain well. Roast until skins split, about five minutes. Remove and when cool enough to handle, peel off the outer shell and inner skin. Reduce oven to 170C. Place chestnuts back in the oven for eight minutes, until tender.
3. Cut speck into five-millimetre lardons. Take the ends off the sprouts, peel off any brown outer leaves and cut the sprouts in half. Blanch sprouts in boiling salted water for eight minutes, then refresh under cold water. Drain well.
4. Melt 50 grams of butter in a large frypan on a medium heat until butter begins to foam. Add the sprouts with some seasoning and fry until they begin to colour. Remove from the pan and reserve.
5. Place the speck in the pan and render the fat for a few minutes. Once it begins to colour add in the chestnut halves and continue to cook. Add the remaining butter and cook until the chestnuts start to colour, then return the sprouts to the pan. Fry together for a minute then remove from heat.
6. Finish with lemon juice, check seasoning and fold through parsley. Serve in a large bowl to share at the table.