This way of roasting a chicken was borne of being short of time one evening and needing to have dinner on the table as quickly as possible. If you’re organised, you should be able to prepare this, and whatever you’re eating it with, in about 45 minutes.
By dividing the bird into four quarters (I tend to simply cut the bird into four with meat shears so there’s plenty of bone left in each piece, but you can also joint your chicken as described HERE if you like), you shave around 30-45 minutes off the roasting of a whole chicken. The idea is also to control the cooking of each part of the bird so that it’s just cooked, and the breast portions don’t dry out at all.
If you so wish, you can use pre-jointed pieces for this, preferably legs or thighs, but it’s cheaper and, I think, more rewarding to use a whole bird.
You will need:
- A Whole Chicken
- A Whole Head of Garlic
- A Fat Slice of Unsalted Butter (about 25g)
- 150ml Double Cream
- 1tbsp Grainy Mustard
- Leaves from a Bunch of Flat-Leaf Parsley, Finely Chopped
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
First, divide up your chicken. Using either a sharp, heavy knife or a pair of meat shears, cut through the breast bone, between the two breasts, then open out the carcass, and cut through the spine (you can also cut either side of the spine and remove it if it seems easier). Then, following the line of the breast, cut each half of the chicken in half again, leaving you with two leg quarters and two breast/wing quarters. Remove the fore-wing from each breast quarter, leaving just the wing-bone that meets the breast intact. Tidy each quarter up a little, trimming off any pieces of excess fat, gristle or bone, leaving four neat pieces.
Heat the butter in a shallow, oven-safe pan big enough to fairly snugly accommodate your chicken pieces in a single layer, til it begins to bubble and smell appealingly nutty, then add your chicken, skin side down, and leave for a few minutes, til the skin is a rich, golden brown. Whilst you’re waiting, divide your head of garlic into individual cloves and lightly crush them with the flat of a heavy knife, leaving the skins attached. Season the upward facing side of the chicken with salt and black pepper, carefully turn each piece over, season the skin side, and throw in the garlic, giving the pan a shake to coat everything in the buttery juices, then put the pan in the oven.
Leave to roast for 30 minutes, basting the chicken with the pan juices half way through.
After the roasting time, remove the pan to the hob, and take out the chicken and garlic and leave to rest on a warm plate (check they’re cooked by piercing the thickest parts and seeing that the juices run clear). Pour away all but a couple of tablespoons of the fat in the pan and put on a gentle heat. Add the cream and mustard, and stir and scrape up all the delicious bits of caramelised chicken stuck to the bottom of the pan til the sauce is heated through (don’t let it boil), then return the chicken and garlic to the pan, scatter with parsley and serve.
We ate it alongside some plain, brown rice, a green salad and some broccoli (you try and get my children to eat salad). If you’re lucky enough to be somewhere warm, for god’s sakes, eat it outside.