Tarragon butter chicken
A whole chicken is brined here with bay and lemon, before being roasted and then slathered in tarragon butter. The result is beautifully juicy meat with golden skin and a subtle aniseed-flavoured edge from the fresh leafy herb
- 1 ½kg whole chicken
- 2tsp coriander seeds
- 2tsp whole black peppercorns
- 2bay leaves
- 1lemon, a strip of zest, plus ½ zested, plus a squeeze of juice
- 2tbsp soft light brown sugar
- 1bulb garlic top removed to reveal the cloves
- olive oil
- 200g unsalted butter
- a bunch tarragon, finely chopped
Step 1Remove the legs of the chicken by cutting down either side of the breast through the skin, popping the thigh joint through and cutting around to separate it from the bird. Put the legs into a large bowl.
Step 2Use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors to remove the spine of the chicken, leaving you with the breasts on the bone with the wings attached. Add this to the bowl with the legs.
Step 3Toast the coriander seeds and peppercorns in a pan for a few minutes over a medium heat until fragrant, then add the bay leaves, a strip of lemon zest, 70g of fine sea salt and the sugar, along with 250ml of water. Simmer for 1 minute until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour in 750ml of cold water. Leave to cool completely, then pour over the chicken, ensuring the breast is skin-side down into the brine. Cover and chill for 8 hours or so.
Step 4Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Put the garlic bulb into a piece of tin foil, drizzle with a little oil and season. Wrap and bake for 40 minutes until meltingly soft.
Step 5Drain the chicken from the brine and pat really dry with kitchen paper. Drizzle the legs with a little oil and season lightly, then roast for 30 minutes.
Step 6Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat and brown the chicken crown, skin-side down, for 5-6 minutes or until deeply golden. After 30 minutes add the crown to the oven tray with the legs, skin-side up, and roast for a further 30 minutes. The thickest part of the breast should read 70C on a digital thermometer and the juices run clear.
Step 7Meanwhile, make the tarragon butter. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into a bowl, add the butter, tarragon, remaining lemon zest and juice, and season well. Mash together until evenly combined.
Step 8Remove the chicken from the oven and smear the breast and legs with all of the butter. Cover and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Step 9To serve, divide the leg into two pieces through the drum and thigh, remove the wings, then remove the breasts and slice. Put everything onto a platter, then spoon over the butter and chicken resting juices from the tray.