1chicken (2kg)2lemons, quarteredFor drizzling:extra-virgin olive oilTo serve:cos lettuce leaves (optional)Pickled fennel3baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced on a mandolin¼Spanish onion, thinly slicedJuiceand zested rind of 1 lemon2 tspfennel seeds100 mlwhite wine vinegar50 mldry white wine20 gmcaster sugar1 tspdried chilli flakesThyme-lemon stuffing30 gmbutter, coarsely chopped1Spanish onion, finely chopped1garlic clove, finely choppedFinelygrated rind and juice of 1 lemonFinelygrated rind and juice of 1 orange1 tspsaffron threads120 gmcrustless day-old bread, coarsely chopped½ cupflat-leaf parsley2 tbspthyme1egg, lightly beaten
For pickled fennel, combine fennel and onion in a bowl, squeeze lemon juice over and toss to combine. Pack into a jar and set aside. Dry-roast fennel seeds until fragrant (1 minute) and coarsely crush in a mortar and pestle. Combine in a saucepan with vinegar, wine, sugar, chilli, lemon rind, 1½ tsp sea salt and 50ml water, season to taste and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for flavours to infuse (5 minutes). Pour mixture over fennel, seal jar and set aside in a cool, dry, dark place to pickle (3 days). Pickled fennel will keep refrigerated for 2 months.
For thyme-lemon stuffing, heat butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic, and stir occasionally until tender (4-5 minutes). Add citrus rinds and juices and saffron, season to taste, and cook until liquid evaporates (1-2 minutes), then remove from heat. Process bread and herbs in a food processor until coarse crumbs form (1 minute), add to onion mixture, add egg and mix with your hands to combine well. Season to taste and set aside to cool completely (30 minutes).
Preheat oven to 200C. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with absorbent paper. Stuff with thyme-lemon stuffing, truss legs with kitchen string and place on a wire rack in a roasting pan. Add lemons to pan, drizzle chicken and lemon with oil, season to taste and roast, basting occasionally with pan juices, until skin is crisp and golden and juices run clear when pierced with a skewer (45 minutes-1 hour). Serve chicken with pickled fennel, lettuce and roast lemon.
This recipe is from the February 2013 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.