- 1.8- 2kg Free Range Chicken
- 1 ½ brown onions
- 4 cloves are garlic
- 1 satchel saffron
- 1 eggplant
- 100ml vermouth
- Sprig of French tarragon
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 thick slices of good sourdough bread – crusts removed – preferable day old.
- ½ onion
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ½ tablespoon chopped French tarragon
- 1 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Crocus sativus is the botanical name for saffron. Crocus sativus is an autumn flowering corm, it has pretty lilac blooms that emerge from the ground in the morning; generally each plant produces one to two flowers per season and the flowers need to be picked before they start to open. Saffron refers to the stigmas of the flowers, the long red strands that are the female reproductive organs of the flower, hence why I always refer to saffron as a she. However crocus sativus is sterile and only reproduces by replication of the mother corms.
There is nothing as special as sitting down to family roast chicken on Sunday night. The smells wafting through the house, that golden brown crispy skin, and arguments of legs vs wings. As an introduction to saffron, this recipe is stunning and easy, folding each saffron strand in a piece of butter makes for easy application under the skin. Saffron dissolves in water, but the aroma is best carried in fats, so in this case, the juices of the chicken dissolve the saffron and the melted butter then carries it’s aroma throughout.
Pre heat the oven to 220C.
Rinse the inside of the chicken with boiling water, several times until the water comes out clean. Dry the inside with a paper towel.
In a food processor, place all stuffing ingredients except the olive oil, and wizz until it is completely combined and quite fine. Add oil and give a further wizz until just combined.
In a deep ovenproof dish, ideally ceramic or terracotta, place the roughly chopped onions. Partially crush the garlic with the side of the knife, don’t worry about peeling them and add to the onion.
Chop the eggplant into centimetre wide strips and place evenly on top of the onion and garlic.
Stuff the chicken, don’t over fill it as the bread will absorb the juices and expand. If there is any leftover stuffing, put it on a tray and bake for 10mins, and serve it as a side.
Place the chicken on the onion mix. Starting at the legs end of the bird, carefully slide your index finger between the breast and the skin, it could separate easily. Gentle loosen all the skin, you might also need to do the same thing from the other end.
Cut a thin piece of butter and place one saffron strand on the butter and then folder it in half, slide the butter under the skin. Repeat until all the saffron strands are used, be sure to evenly distribute the butter under the skin.
Place the tarragon sprig under the skin.
Salt and pepper the top of the skin and rub with olive oil, be sure to get the wings and legs.
Place in the oven for 20 mins and then turn down to 180C and cook for a further 1 hr.
Check the chicken after 1hr at 180C, by breaking the skin on the inside of the thigh next to the breast, the juices should be running clear, if not continue cooking for another 20 mins.
Pull the bird out of the oven dish onto a warm plate, cover and rest for 15+ mins
Serve with your favourite carbohydrate: roast potatoes, excellent crusty bread, couscous, let your imagination run.