Roasted herb-butter chicken with sticky onions

To celebrate Easter, Angela Nilsen's roast chicken is fragrant with fresh herbs tucked beneath the skin
By Angela Nilsen
Roasted herb-butter chicken with sticky onions
  • Rating:
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 10-15 minutes resting
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

  • 25 g butter, softened
  • 1 tsp finely chopped tarragon, plus extra sprigs
  • 2 tsp finely snipped chives
  • 1 tsp finely chopped parsley, plus extra sprigs
  • 1 x 1.8 kg chicken, preferably free-range, organic
  • 1 lemon, halved, skin pricked with a fork
  • 1 red onion, cut in thick wedges
  • 8 shallots, halved lengthways
  • 100 g lardons
  • about 200 ml hot chicken stock, optional for making gravy
  • buttered new potatoes and peas, to serve

Tips and Suggestions

Buy the best chicken you can afford for maximum flavour and texture

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.

2. Mix the butter, chopped tarragon, snipped chives and chopped parsley in a small bowl, then season with a little salt and black pepper. Ease the skin away from the breast part of the chicken by gently pushing your fingers under it, being careful not to tear the skin. Working with half of the herb butter at a time, push it under the skin on one side of the breast, then massage it through the skin so it covers as much of the breast as possible. Repeat with the rest of the butter on the other side.

3. Put the lemon halves inside the cavity of the chicken along with a few tarragon sprigs. Rub or brush the skin of the chicken all over with some olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Scatter the red onion wedges into the middle of a roasting tin, then sit the chicken on the top, so it covers the onions.

4. Roast for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and baste the chicken with any juices. Scatter in the shallots and lardons and toss in the juices to coat. Roast for another 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the chicken is tender, and the shallots are softened and golden, stirring the shallots and lardons half way through. Towards the end of cooking time, check the chicken and if it is getting too brown, cover loosely with foil. To check when done, pierce the thigh with a skewer or tip of a sharp knife. If the juices run clear it is ready.

5. Lift the chicken from the roasting tin and transfer to a board or serving dish. Cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes. Keep the onions and lardons warm, then serve with the chicken, along with buttered new potatoes and peas.

6. Alternatively, if you want to make a gravy, after you have lifted the cooked chicken from the tin, drain off most of the fat from the roasting tin, leaving the juices, onions and bacon behind, then sit the tin on the hob and heat it up. Stir in enough of the stock, scraping up the sticky bits from the bottom of the tin, to give you a rich coloured gravy of the consistency you like. Simmer briefly and serve with the chicken.

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