May 21 2007

Chicken Orvieto

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Here is a classic Italian dish which is very popular around here!

Melt a little butter in some oil in a large flat pan or frying pan ( the oil stops the butter burning) and saute a couple of chopped shallots or a small chopped onion, with the chopped giblets from a large free range chicken. Cook for a few minutes until the shallots are soft but not brown. Add a clove of crushed garlic and 400grms of diced potato and a bulb of fennel, also chopped fine. Saute all together until nearly cooked giving the occasional stir.  Allow to cool, add the juice of a lemon and salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste.

Use the mixture to stuff the chicken in the usual way, securing closed with a skewer or truss with string .

Pour some olive oil over the bird and strew it with plenty of coarse sea salt to make the skin crispy. Place it in a roasting tin in a hot oven and cook for 40 minutes. Meanwhile break up some cloves of garlic until you have about 30 little cloves. *Yes, 30!! Run into your garden or your neighbours and pick a sprig of rosemary about 15cm long. Take the bird from the oven, baste well and scatter  the garlic cloves, the rosemary leaves and a jar of black olives around the bird.  Put it back in the oven to finish cooking.  To check that it is cooked, stick a skewer into the thigh, if the juice runs clear it is cooked. If it is still pink cook a little longer.
When you’re happy that it is cooked take it from the roasting tin onto a large plate, cover with a piece of foil, keep warm and *rest while you make the gravy. Tip the roasting pan and spoon out most of the fat leaving the meat juices behind. Deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine and a glass of water. Stir and scrape the tin till boiling then strain this simple sauce into a jug.

Cut the chicken into six pieces, eight if the legs are very big. Pile the stuffing, garlic cloves and olives onto the dish and pass it round with the gravy for everyone to help themselves. All you need with this is a beautifully dressed crisp green salad.

* Garlic changes it’s flavour according to it’s treatment. Crushed with salt it has that strong pungent smell and flavour, chopped it is milder and roasted whole the cloves are sweet and soft…really yummy!

* Always rest roasted meat for at least ten minutes or more after it comes out of the oven. This allows the juices to settle back into the meat, and makes it easier to carve.

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