A roast chook makes the perfect portable meal. You can prepare the chicken the day before, then cook it on the morning of your picnic and transport it in its roasting pan - just make sure it's well-wrapped or you'll lose all the beautiful pan juices. It's equally good straight from the oven.
- 1 whole chicken (about 1.6kg)
- 5 small vine-ripened tomatoes
- 1 onion, cut into wedges
- 1 lemon, coarsely chopped
- 8 thyme sprigs, plus extra leaves to serve
- 125 ml dry white wine
- 125 ml chicken stock (½ cup)
- 1 head garlic, halved horizontally
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 70 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- ¼ small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, bruised
- 1 vine-ripened tomato, finely chopped
- Finely grated rind of 1 lemon (reserve lemon for stuffing chicken)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped thyme
- 1For tomato butter, melt 10gm butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add onion and garlic, sauté until tender (2-3 minutes), add tomato, stir occasionally until thick and reduced (8-10 minutes), then set aside to cool. Transfer to a food processor, add lemon rind, thyme and remaining butter, process until smooth and combined, then set aside.
- 2Preheat oven to 200C. Rinse chicken inside and out under cold water, pat dry with absorbent paper. Slide your fingers carefully between skin and breast of chicken to separate, then loosen as much of the skin around the leg as possible without piercing skin. Spoon two-thirds of the tomato butter between skin and flesh and massage to evenly distribute. Spread remaining tomato butter over chicken breast and thighs and set aside.
- 3Coarsely chop 1 tomato, then stuff into chicken cavity with onion, lemon and thyme sprigs. Tie legs with kitchen twine and place chicken in roasting pan. Halve remaining tomatoes, add to roasting pan with wine, stock and garlic, season to taste. Drizzle chicken with olive oil and roast, basting chicken with pan juices, until skin is crisp and golden and chicken is cooked through (50 minutes-1 hour). Serve at room temperature with pan tomatoes and garlic, scattered with thyme leaves.
Drink Suggestion: Fine dry pinot noir rosé. Drink suggestion by Max Allen
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