I didn’t eat chicken for many years – it was a combination of bland chicken breast overload in my 20s and then later, a concern for the way chickens were farmed and so I avoided eating them. I got over it though. The reason being that I can find organic whole chickens at the local farmer’s market and know that I am getting produce that was well looked after, well fed and happy (well as happy as a chicken that runs around in the open air during daylight hours can be!)
Now that the weather is warming up (ever so slightly in Melbourne), I love cooking a whole roast chicken. It is a simple but delicious meal that can be made without too much fuss. My mother makes a fantastic whole roast chicken at times of family celebration – but debones it (in about 10 minutes flat) and stuffs it. It is very impressive. Mine is a lot simpler than that. It is based on a Gourmet Traveller recipe and has a thyme stuffing.
This dish is so light, with a lemony, herby stuffing to complement the moist roasted chicken. It makes a lovely festive lunch when accompanied by a chunky potato salad and a glass of crisp white wine. Buon appetito!
Pollo arrosto con timo e limone
2kg organic or free range chicken
2 large lemons, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Zest of a lemon and an orange
Juice of a lemon and an orange
1/2 cup day old bread, crust removed
1/2 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh thyme
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
For the stuffing, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Then add onion and garlic, stirring for a few minutes until the onion softens and add the lemon and orange (juices and zests). Cook for a few minutes until the liquid reduces. Remove from the heat. Place the herbs and bread in a food processor and pulse until it has formed large crumbs. Combine the crumbs with the liquid in a medium sized bowl. Add the egg and mix with your hands until you have a cohesive paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Wash the chicken inside and out and pat dry. Stuff with the cooled dressing. Truss the legs (see diagram below) and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Place the lemon wedges in the base of the pan and drizzle both the chicken and the lemons with the olive oil. Season he chicken shaking with salt and pepper. Cook for 50 minutes to an hour, basting the chicken with the pan juices every 10-15 minutes. The chicken is cooked when it is pierced with a metal skewer and the juices run clear. Serve with a lovely potato salad for a Sunday lunch.