Roast Chicken with Crunchy Stuffing & Bacon Rolls
I don’t like cooking my stuffing inside the chicken, because I prefer it to get a little bit crunchy. These little stuffing and bacon rolls do two jobs in one go – you get the crunchy stuffing as well as some slightly crisp (but not overcooked) bacon.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, then push in the thyme, bay leaves and lemon. Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put into a small roasting tin and roast for 1 hour 20 minutes, i.e. 20 minutes per 450 g (1 lb). Cover with a loose piece of foil during cooking if it starts to get a bit too brown.
Meanwhile, for the crunchy stuffing and bacon rolls, melt the butter in a pan, add the onion, leek and celery and fry gently for 5 minutes until soft but not browned. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. Add the ham, cheese, breadcrumbs and some seasoning and mix together lightly. Beat the mustard with the egg and stir in to bind everything together.
Divide the mixture into 8 even-sized pieces and shape them into short, fat little barrels. Stretch each bacon rasher on a board with the back of a sharp knife, then cut in half into 2 shorter pieces. Wrap one piece of bacon around each barrel of stuffing and put seam-side down into a lightly oiled shallow roasting tin. Roast alongside the chicken for the last 20–30 minutes, until crisp and golden.
To test if the chicken is cooked, push a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh, where it presses up against the body. If the juices run pink, it is not cooked and needs to be returned to the oven. When the juices run clear, remove it from the oven, drain the cooking juices from the cavity into the roasting tin and put the bird onto a board. Cover with foil and leave somewhere warm for about 10–15 minutes to allow the meat to relax, while you make the gravy. (Relaxing the meat will really make all the difference, and you will end up with a very moist, tender chicken.)
Skim off any oil from the surface of the cooking juices, place the roasting tin over a high heat and pour in the wine. Boil until reduced by half, rubbing the base of the tin with a wooden spoon to release all the caramelized juices. Stir in the flour, then the chicken stock and boil once more until the gravy has reduced and is well flavoured. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
To carve the chicken, cut through the skin between the legs and the body, then gently pull each leg away, cutting through the joint attaching it with the tip of the knife. Cut each leg in half at the joint between the drumstick and the thigh. Now carve away the breast meat from each side in long, thin slices, and cut off the wings if you wish. Serve with the crunchy stuffing and bacon rolls, the gravy and some vegetables of your choice
- 1 x 1.75-kg (4-lb) chicken
- a small bunch of thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 1⁄2 lemon
- olive oil, for rubbing
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Crunchy Stuffing & Bacon Rolls
- 15 g (1⁄2 oz) butter
- 1⁄2 onion, finely chopped
- 1 small leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
- 1 small celery stick, thinly sliced
- 100 g (4 oz) thickly sliced smoked ham, finely chopped
- 50 g (2 oz) Gruyère or Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
- 75 g (3 oz) white breadcrumbs, made from day-old bread
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons beaten egg
- 100 g (4 oz) rindless streaky bacon
- For the Gravy
- 75 ml (3 fl oz) dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon plain flour
- 300 ml (10 fl oz) chicken stock
- 2–3 tablespoons double cream