This is a very simple and tasty alternative to Christmas turkey. Cook the bird on a high heat for a shorter time, and then give it a good rest, and you will be rewarded with juicier meat. Butterflying the chicken – removing the backbone and flattening it – enables the legs to cook more quickly. Adding ½ cup of roasted, chopped macadamia nuts to the stuffing really enhances the flavour. All you need to add, really, is a well-dressed salad and some crisp potatoes.
2kg free-range chicken
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper
1 lemon, quartered, to serve
For the stuffing
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
125g unsalted butter, chopped and at room temperature
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground pepper
1. To make the stuffing, put the garlic and a little sea salt in a mortar and pound with the pestle until a paste forms. Add the onion and crush slightly, then mix through the butter, then the herbs and ricotta. Finally, add the lemon juice, and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
2. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 2 hours before cooking to bring to room temperature. Prepare the chicken by cutting down the backbone and pushing down gently on the breastplate; it should start to flatten out. Push it right down and you will have the chicken butterflied. (See this step-by-step guide.)
3. Preheat the oven to 200C fan-forced (220C conventional). Remove the chicken's wishbone, then gently loosen the skin from the flesh. Take some stuffing and put it under the skin of the legs. Take a little more and continue until the pocket is full and even. Repeat the process with the skin on top of the breasts. Smooth the skin out. Rub the skin with extra virgin olive oil and season all over with sea salt. Place in a roasting tin and cook for 40 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes.
5. Place the chicken on a chopping board, cut down the middle, then remove the legs. Cut the legs into thighs and drumsticks and cut each breast into two. Put the pieces on plates and spoon over the juices and oil from the roasting tin. Add a good grind of pepper, and serve with lemon wedges on the side.
Find more of Neil Perry's recipes in the Good Food New Classics cookbook.