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Herb roast chicken

This is an easy solution for feeding a crowd and almost everyone likes roast chicken. All you need is some new potatoes or creamy mash on the side. We love the fresh tarragon with the peas but you could use mint if you prefer. The combination of the peas, shallots, herbs and pancetta really add extra depth to the chicken and lift even ordinary chickens to feast-like levels. Of course, if the budget allows, get a good, free-range one as the extra flavour is really worth it.

Wine Suggestion: As this dish is a bit richer than your standard roast chicken it demands more than most white wines can deliver. We find Pinot Noir a good choice. This time we chose the Justin Girardin Santenay 1er Clos Rousseau and the earthy flavours danced with the salty, crispy pancetta and sweet peas. The tarragon made it all the more reminiscent of holidays in France.

Herb-Roast Chicken – serves 8-10 (easily halved)

  • 200g cubetti di pancetta
  • 800g shallots, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chickens (about 1.5kg each)
  • 500ml hot chicken stock
  • 800g peas (frozen will be fine)
  • small pack tarragon, roughly chopped

Heat oven to 190C/170C/gas 5.

Fry the pancetta gently in a heavy frying pan until crisp – if you start with a cold pan you shouldn’t need to add any oil. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the shallots to the pan and fry in the pancetta fat for 10-15 minutes or until golden and starting to soften. Tip the shallots into a very large roasting tin.

Rub the olive oil over the chickens and season well with salt and pepper, then place the chickens into the roasting tin with the shallots. Roast for about 1 hour 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove the chickens from the tin and cover with foil.

Put the roasting tin directly onto the hob and stir in the stock. Bubble for a few minutes and scrape any sticky bits off the bottom of the tin with a wooden spoon. Add the peas, pancetta and most of the tarragon to the stock and bubble for a few minutes or until the peas are cooked, then season.

Meanwhile carve the chicken into large pieces. Transfer the peas to a warm serving platter and serve the chicken on top with the rest of the tarragon sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2010.)

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