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John Quigley: Roast Chicken.

Byline: John Quigley

Ingredients: For the chicken

.1 x 1.5-2kg/3-3.5lb chicken, preferably freerange or corn-fed .25g/1oz mascarpone or full fat soft cheese .25g/1oz butter .1tbsp chopped tarragon .1tbsp chopped rosemary .1tbsp chopped parsley .1 lemon .a little olive oil .salt and pepper For the peas .250g/9oz freshly shelled or frozen peas .1tbsp white wine vinegar .2tbsp dry white wine .1 shallot or small onion, very finely chopped .1 bay leaf .half teaspoon readymade English mustard .2tbsp double cream .100g/4oz hard, unsalted butter, diced

ROAST chicken is one of our favourites when we ask friends round for Sunday lunch.

It's a very simple dish but it can be a little tricky to cook the chicken just right.

Trouble is the breast cooks quicker than the legs, so you can end up with perfectly cooked legs and dry breast meat or juicy, tender white meat and raw legs.

I've roasted many chickens over the years so here is how I get my chicken just right: Slash the thick thigh meat before roasting so the heat can penetrate quicker. Get the pan hot first so the leg meat starts cooking the second it goes in and sear the legs in the hot pan before roasting. It works every time.

It's a real family favourite, especially at this time of year, with buttered peas and new potatoes. It's always casual because we eat round the kitchen table with the children and everyone helps themselves.

It's so simple. You don't even need to make gravy because you've got a sauce with the peas.

With some ice cream, fresh fruit or trifle to follow, that's what I call a real Sunday lunch.

Method: Combine mascarpone, butter, herbs, lemon juice , a little salt and pepper in a bowl and mix to a smooth paste. Using your fingers, gently push the herb mixture into pockets under skin and squish it even by massaging the breast with your fingers. Heat oven tray until hot. Lay the chicken on its thigh, press-ing the bird down hard so the leg instantly sizzles and browns. Repeat with the other side.

Drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast chicken in preheated oven (220C/gas mark 7, or 200C for fan assisted oven). Cook the chicken for 45 minutes to one hour until golden brown. Boil peas in salted water for 45 minutes. Combine wine vinegar, wine, bay leaf and shallot in pan and boil over a high heat until only a tablespoon of liquid remains. Add mustard and cream, boil for 15 seconds or so, shaking the pan and whisking. Still over a high heat, gradually add the butter, whisking to make a creamy sauce. Season and serve with peas.

CAPTION(S):

Finger-lickin' good: Chicken and new potatoes
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 14, 2003
Words:468
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