Start with a pasture raised chicken to make Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s delicious recipe for Herb Roasted Chicken. We have Freedom Ranger chickens available in our Farm Store, raised on pasture and processed here on the farm, air-chilled, not soaked in water, so the skin becomes a crispy golden color when roasted.
Herb Roast Chicken
from The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
1 plump roasting chicken
7 tablespoons soft butter
Generous handfuls of fresh herbs, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ glass of white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the butter in a bowl, throw in the roughly chopped herbs and the garlic, and season well with salt and pepper. Mix together with your fingers, then smear all over the chicken,outside and in.
Place in the center of a hot oven (400°F) and leave for 20 minutes (phase 1). Then baste the chicken, turn the oven down to 350°F, pour the wine into the pan (not over the bird), and roast the bird for another 30 to 40 minutes (phase 2), depending on its size. Open the oven door, turn the oven off, and leave the bird for 15 to 20 minutes (phase 3). For a bird over 4 pounds, you will have to make the necessary adjustments, adding a few minutes to each phase. You may also wish to protect the bird’s skin with buttered foil for, say, the first 20 minutes of phase 2. A good test for doneness is to pierce that part of the bird where the thigh joins the breast; the juices released should run clear.
Forget about gravy. Carve the bird in the pan, as coarsely and crudely as you like (no wafer-thin breast slices, please), letting the pieces fall into the buttery pan juices and letting the fresh juices from carving mingle with the rest. Then take the pan to the table and pass it round your family or guests in the pecking order of your choosing, so they can pull out the bits they fancy. Pass it round a second time, to help redress grievances and encourage the further and fairer distribution of juices.
Accompaniments? Roast potatoes would be de trop. A green vegetable would probably go unnoticed. Some good bread to mop up the juices will be appreciated, while a leafy salad, produced only after your guests have demolished the chicken, might assuage a few guilty consciences.
The discovery of the roasting pan, a day or so later in a cool larder, is a joy you may not wish to share. Plunder the jellied juices, congealed bits of skin, and crusty meat tatters that cling to the carcass before you quietly make the rest, along with the giblets, into stock.