The inspiration for this recipe comes from Justine Drake’s recipe for roast chicken with verjuice and herbs, published in Fresh Living magazine a while ago. I simply love the herby sauce this makes, and think this is one of the best roast chicken recipes ever.
The baby chickens used in this recipe are free range chickens that are reared on a farm about 80kms outside of Cape Town, and I got them from Salvin Hirschfield, the butcher at the Neighbourgoods market at the Biscuit Mill. If you don’t know him, its well worth going to the market to procure one of his beautiful, plump, free range chickens or some of his other spectacular meat.
Salvin says that not only is the manner in which the birds live their life important, but how they are slaughtered, in determining the quality of the meat. These are chickens that live in open spaces, and are killed in a very humane way.
His chickens remind me of the ones we ate when I was a child, and can easily feed a family of four. I had forgotten how much white meat a bird could have and the flavour is far superior.
What you need to roast 1 large chicken or 2 babies:
- 1 onion peeled and roughly chopped (I like to add onion and carrot to my roasting pan to add flavour)
- 2 carrots peeled and roughly chopped
- 250ml (1 cup) dry white wine (I used Sauvignon blanc)
- 125ml (1/2 a cup) chicken stock (I only use Nomu Fond / liquid stock concentrate)
- 125ml (1/2 cup) finely chopped herbs (I used rosemary, parsley and thyme) – but sage and basil are also good
- 4 cloves of garlic crushed
- 3 tsp of Dijon mustard
- 3 – 4 Tbs of olive oil (I like to coat the chicken to ensure a beautiful crispy brown skin)
- salt and pepper
How to make:
- pre heat the oven to 200 C
- place the chicken on the chopped onion and carrots in a deep sided roasting pan
- mix all the liquid, mustard and herbs together and pour this sauce over the chickens and into the cavity
- drizzle over the olive oil and season the birds with salt and pepper
- roast uncovered for 1 1/2 hours and until the chickens are cooked (I turned them over half way through so that the underside gets golden brown and crispy too)
- strain the pan juices, onion and carrot and use this delicious jus as your gravy
I like to cut the chicken up into rustic big pieces and then pour over the pan sauce so they wallow in it before serving.
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