Let’s be honest: there’s no dish like a roast chicken to celebrate a family get together. I am always slightly proud, a little feeling that warms me up from the inside, when I roast a chicken: you can smell it as soon as you open the door, a well known tempting aroma that welcomes my guests when they arrive or simply tells my family that lunch is ready. I feel like a new Marion Cunningham when I pull out of the chicken from the oven with my gigantic gloves and take it to the table with a smile that would suit perfectly a fifties housewife. Just add backcombed hair and a string of pearls and you have the ideal picture.
A roast chicken was then the easiest choice for the final menu of our Tuscan Christmas lunch with Cecchi Winery. In addition to being spectacular, especially if served with a pan of perfectly roasted mixed vegetables, it is also the perfect dish to impress your guests and keep the lunch on a budget. Wow effect guaranteed. Needless to say, choose a free range chicken at the supermarket or buy it directly from a farm… it will assure you a healthier sustainable meat and – not less important – a better flavour. Once you have a good chicken it’s a child’s play.
As for the recipe, time to work a little magic again. The chicken is not simply roasted but even stuffed with sausage, orange peel, juniper berries to give a touch of balsamic and our unmissable stale Tuscan bread. The stuffing keeps the chicken juicy and flavourful inside – even the breast which is usually not so appreciated – and add extra colour and richness to the dish: give everyone a piece of meat and a scoop of stuffing, plus a generous serving of baked vegetables. Obviously, the thigh goes to the children, or if it’s your favorite piece, it’s time to do some tricks to save it for you.
The roast vegetables – a rainbow of chopped potatoes, red onions, carrots and cauliflower drizzled with good extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper – require the same cooking time as the chicken in a fan assisted oven, a stress free side dish with winter festive tones.
- A chicken, about 1.2 kg, already cleaned and ready to be cooked
- 150 g of stale bread
- 5 juniper berries
- 3 fresh pork sausages, about 250 g
- Juice and peel of an organic orange
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 180°C, fan assisted.
- Rinse the chicken under cold running water, pat dry with kitchen paper and sprinkle slightly with salt inside.
- Soak the bread in a bowl of cold water, when elastic squeeze it with your hands and crumble in another bowl. Add the peeled sausage, the crushed juniper berries, the finely grated rind of an orange, a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, salt and a generous pinch of black pepper. Mix all the ingredients with your hands.
- Stuff the chicken the with the bread and sausage stuffing, tie with a kitchen string and rub the skin with salt, pepper and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Arrange the chicken in a baking dish previously greased with olive oil and put in the oven.
- Roast the chicken for about one hour and ten minutes and drizzle occasionally with the orange juice or the cooking liquid to keep it moist. When the skin is golden brown, shiny and crisp your chicken is ready.
- Remove it from the oven and let it rest wrapped in aluminum foil for a few minutes before serving.
Wine paring by Cecchi
Riserva di Famiglia Chianti Classico Riserva. Riserva di Famiglia has found the perfect friend for this Christmas. Thank you Juls for the pairing! The Sangiovese of our Chianti Classico Riserva with its intense hints of violets and its well-balanced body will be in a good company with the fantastic and tasty roast chicken and your Christmas lunch will be unforgettable.
And now tell me which is your favorite piece in a roast chicken? the easy to eat thigh, the breast – probably the connoisseurs’s choice – or the wings, crisp and tasty? Tomorrow we’ll discover the last course of our Tuscan Christmas lunch with a typical cake from Siena belonging to the medieval tradition.