This is a great way to cook a chicken – no liquid is used and the chicken cooks in its own flavoursome juices. The juices are sensational. Cook the chicken until the legs feel wobbly at the joints.
2 Tbsp butter, softened 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced 1-2 Tbsp r fresh or dried tarragon leaves (or use rosemary) Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 free-range corn-fed chicken, 1.2 kg (about 2 pound 10 ounces)
1 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Blend 1 tablespoon of butter with the garlic and most of the chosen herb, and a little salt and pepper.
2 Remove any lumps of fat from inside chicken cavity. Put a nut of butter inside the cavity, along with a sprig of tarragon or a few pinches of dried tarragon and a little salt and pepper. Slip your thumb and fingers between the chicken skin on the breast and breast meat. Slip in the garlic and herb mixture. Press it smooth on top of the skin.
2 Take a piece of baking (parchment) paper large enough to wrap the chicken, and brush it with butter – mainly in the middle of the paper where it will touch the chicken skin. Put chicken on buttered paper and season with salt. Tie legs together with string. Turn chicken over and wrap in the paper, tucking in the ends of the paper. Use a second larger piece of paper to wrap the chicken into a parcel. Tie with string.
3 Put chicken in a small roasting tin and cook for 1¼ hours in an oven preheated to 200°C (400°F). Remove chicken from oven and check that the legs feel loose at the joints. If they are not loose, return chicken to oven for 10-15 minutes more, or until chicken is cooked. Cool chicken for 15-30 minutes in the roasting tin before removing string and paper, letting juices fall into tin. Transfer chicken to a board. Tilt the roasting tin and scoop off fat from juices and discard, or pass juices through a fat separating jug. Put roasting tin over a medium heat (or transfer juices to a a small frying pan/skillet), and bubble up until reduced to about ½ cup of juice. Cut chicken into serving pieces, arrange on a plate and spoon over juices.
While this is an easy way to cook a chicken, creating very little mess, the chicken needs to be at room temperature before cooking, the oven needs to be preheated, and the chicken should be left wrapped in the paper for a good 15 minutes once it comes out of the oven to complete cooking and for juices to be absorbed. Allow an extra 15 minutes’ cooking time for a 1.4-5kg (3 pound 2-3 ounce) chicken.