Buttery stuffing under the skin is a great way to infuse more flavour into a chicken and keeps the breast meat moist and the skin crispy.
1 free-range chicken (about 1.6 kg)
1 orange or lemon, pricked all over
1 onion, skinned and cut in half
Salt and pepper
50 g unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs (e.g. rosemary, parsley, thyme, chives, chervil)
2 cloves of crushed garlic
Salt and pepper
You could also add chopped shallots, wild mushrooms, or even black truffle (as a very special treat) to the butter…
- Heat oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
- Don’t wash the chicken, but do wash your hands after touching it.
- Mix all the stuffing ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Carefully run your fingers under the skin to detach it from the breast meat (you might want to use gloves), taking care not to tear it. Push half of the butter stuffing into each cavity and smooth it down to spread evenly over the meat.
- Place the orange or lemon, onion and bay leaf inside the chicken. Season. Microwave the orange/lemon for 40 seconds at this point to bring out the flavour.
- Either cook straight away, or keep the chicken uncovered in the fridge for a few hours to dry out to make the skin extra crisp and delicious.
- Cook for 1 hour 20 minutes, basting occasionally. Check the meat is cooked by piercing through the deepest part and checking the juices that flow out are clear.
- Rest the chicken for 20 mins before carving to let those glorious juices flow back into the bird.
- For a quick gravy, stir 1 tbsp of plain flour into the pan juices, cook for 2 mins, stirring continuously, then pour in some hot stock and a good glug of Madeira, Port, or white wine. Simmer for a few minutes, then serve.