October 07, 2003

Roast Chicken with Fennel and Lemon

Serves 4.

1 large free-range chicken
2 large bulbs of fennel
4 small spring leeks
1 lemon
6 cloves of new season's 'green' garlic
24 new potatoes
olive oil
fennel seeds
bay leaves
1 glass of white wine

Get the oven hot - set it at 200 C/gas mark 6. Halve, then thinly slice the fennel bulbs into thick wedges, then put them in a colander. Slice the leeks into short cork-sized chunks and add them to the fennel, then rinse both under cold running water.

Cut the lemon into six wedges and toss with the fennel. Peel the garlic, but leave the cloves whole. Scrub the new potatoes thoroughly, then tumble everything into a roasting tin or baking dish.

Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Rub it all over with olive oil, salt and black pepper, then sit it on top of the vegetables. Scatter over a few pinches of fennel seed, drizzle the chicken and vegetables with olive oil and roast for an hour or so until the flesh is tender and the skin golden. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer in between the leg and the breast - the juices from it should run clear with no sign of blood.

Remove the dish from the oven and lift the bird on to a carving board. Toss the vegetables around, drizzling over a little more oil if you think they need it, and giving another few grinds of the salt and pepper mills. Turn the oven up as high as it will go and return the vegetables to the oven, leaving the chicken to rest a while. Watch them closely at this point - they scorch easily. They should be tender and golden brown after 10-15 minutes.

Lift the vegetables from the dish and put them on to warm plates. If you can leave some of the garlic cloves behind in the dish, then all the better - they will help season the juices. Put the dish over a medium heat and pour in the wine, bringing it to the boil and stirring and scraping as it simmers. After a minute or two check the seasoning - it will need salt and pepper - and pour over the meat as you carve.

Posted by reisel at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)