Having spent the weekend in the beautiful but decidedly nippy Essex countryside eating delicious but decidedly vegan food, I returned home craving meat and heat.
In a week of dire warnings about climate change, and reminders that it’s up to all of us to make a difference, I did think twice about putting up a meat recipe. But if we all cut down to eating meat just once or twice a week, and cooked from raw ingredients with minimum processing and packaging, we’d be taking a big step in the right direction. Shopping for all these ingredients in my local independent butcher and greengrocer generated just one small plastic bag of packaging waste (that was used to wrap the chicken).
This one is in the Essex Road Recipe card collection, so if you have that, you don’t need this.
Here’s the bed of blitzed herbs, lemon, onion and garlic and the stuffed chicken before cooking
1 large free range chicken
4 garlic cloves
1⁄2 bunch flat leaf parsley
1⁄2 bunch coriander leaf
salt and pepper
You’ll need a deep ovenproof dish with a lid, or one that you can cover tightly with foil
What to do. …roughly speaking:
Pre heat the oven to very hot; 230oC/450oF/Gas Mark 8
Chop 1 of the lemons very finely, skin and all. Pick out all the pips.
Chop 1 of the onions, all the garlic, half of the parsley and coriander leaf very finely.
(I then blitz the chopped lemon onion and herbs in a food processor for a few seconds to release even more flavour, but it isn’t absolutely necessary to do this.)
Mix all the chopped ingredients with a little salt and pepper and spread over the bottom of your roasting dish. Add a small amount of water, about 1⁄2 a cup/100 mls.
Place 1 whole lemon and 1 whole, peeled onion inside the chicken. Lift the skin on the chicken breast and push the remaining uncut herbs between the skin and the flesh. Rub a little salt and pepper into the skin of the chicken and place the chicken on top of the chopped mix. Cover or put the lid on the roasting dish and place in the very hot oven. After 15 minutes turn the oven right down to 150oC/300oF/Gas Mark 2
Check after about 20 minutes to make sure that the liquid in the bottom of the roasting dish is bubbling slightly, and if it isn’t turn up your oven a bit.
Cook for 21/2 hours. The chicken should be falling off the bone. Serve with some of the chopped lemony onion spooned over the top of the chicken with boiled potatoes and green beans.