“This year, try a large roast chicken, – you can find bigger, 4kg birds at this time of year, including the classic large French chicken, poulet de Bresse. Stuffed with fresh herbs and some porcini-and-pancetta butter smeared under the skin, this is no ordinary roast chook. ”
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/gas 5. Leave the chicken to come up to room temperature while you make your butter.
Pop the dried porcini into a small bowl, cover with boiling water and allow to sit for 5 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms, and reserve both them and their soaking liquid.
Put your butter into a bowl and finely grate in the lemon zest (reserve the lemons for later) and half of the nutmeg, then peel and crush in the garlic.
Pick in the thyme leaves, chop and add the pancetta, then add the soaked porcini along with a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Mix everything into the butter until combined, then divide into two. Set aside in the fridge until needed.
Take the chicken and use your fingers and a spatula to gently work your way between the skin and the meat. Start at the side of the cavity just above the leg and work gently up along the breastbone, towards the back, until you create a large cavity.
Poke half of the butter into it, using your hands to push it through the skin right to the back, so it coats the breast meat as evenly as possible. Do the same on the other side with the remaining butter, and if there’s any left, rub it over the outside of the bird.
Halve the reserved zested lemons and pop in the cavity of the chicken along with the thyme, rosemary and sage sprigs – this will add extra flavour while the chicken cooks.
Peel and halve the onions, peel and roughly chop the carrots, then trim and roughly chop the celery.
Pile the veg into a large roasting tray, smash and add the whole garlic cloves along with the bay leaves and chicken wings, then drizzle with oil.
Place your whole chicken on top, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast the chicken in the oven for about 2 hours, or until the skin is golden and crispy and the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a sharp knife, basting twice during cooking. If the vegetables start looking dry, add a splash of water to the tray to stop them burning.
Remove the tray from the oven and transfer the chicken to a board. Cover with a sheet of tin foil and a tea towel and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
To prepare the gravy, spoon away any excess fat from the mixture in the roasting tray, then place on the hob over a low-medium heat.
Add the flour, stirring constantly, then pour in the wine and let it reduce down. Lastly, add the stock and stir continuously, until thickened.
Sieve the gravy into a clean saucepan, pressing down on all the solids to extract as much as you can. Keep the gravy warm in the saucepan, skimming off any fat that rises to the top. Serve with your roast chicken.