Well, what a FEAST! It turned out that the plump Rings Farm free range 2 kilo+ bird was much less fatty than its French multi-labelled counterparts yielding so much flesh, and the taste and texture were superb. I stuffed it under the skin and inside with The Sea Gardener’s black olive and seaweed caponata, giving it magnificent colour and boosting the taste even further. Accompanied by a simple olive oil mash and Roast Courgettes and Scallions with Garlic and Rosemary, everyone was very happy around my table. One chicken is easily enough for eight people as a main course after a light starter. The leftovers will feed a pasta or salad next day and of course the carcass makes a great base for precious stock for your soups and risottos.
1 Rings Farm free range chicken (2.2/2.4 kg)
2 tubs seaweed caponata
50g softened butter
1 small loaf of brown bread made into breadcrumbs
1/2 onion, chopped very finely
100g cold butter, diced
salt and pepper
8 to ten fluffy potatoes, peeled
150ml olive oil
50/75g butter, softened
salt and pepper
Remove the chicken from the fridge a good 45 minutes before you start cooking.
Using your fingertips (be careful if you have long nails!) ease the skin away from the flesh of the chicken all over its back.
Push the caponata into the space between skin and flesh and smooth it out to cover as much surface as possible.
Rub the softened butter over the surface of the chicken including the legs, sprinkle lightly with salt and place in a large baking pan.
Mix the remaining caponata, if you haven’t used it all, plus the second tub with the breadcrumbs, chopped onion and diced butter. You won’t need to season this further, especially if you are using salted butter.
Fill the cavity of the chicken, pressing the breadcrumbs firmly but too much, so as the stuffing stays a little loose. You can also cook the stuffing alongside the bird, of course.
Pre heat the oven to 200C.
Put the roasting tin in the oven and immediately lower the heat to 180C.
Cook for 2 to 2 ½ hours depending on your oven, checking and basting the chicken regularly. Cover the top with foil if it is cooking too quickly. Pop the stuffing into the oven for an hour before serving if you are cooking it separately. The courgettes will need about 25 minutes to roast alongside the chicken. You can finish off cooking them as the chicken is resting before serving it up.
Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for a good 20 minutes before carving and serving. Pour the cooking juices into a saucepan for gravy. Remove the stuffing and put it into a bowl for serving.
Make mash with the potatoes by adding the butter first to let it melt, and the oil as you are mashing. Do this at the last minute, season well and serve immediately with the carved chicken and roast courgettes.
Photography by Marta Miklinska. Food Styling by Trish Deseine.