1 head of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
6 streaky bacon rashers, chopped
400g shallots or small onions, peeled
250g button mushrooms, wiped clean and left whole
2 large sprigs of thyme
grated zest of 1 lemon
generous slice of butter
1 x 1.2–1.5kg chicken
300ml chicken stock
100ml double cream (optional)
salt and black pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
handful of parsley leaves, roughly chopped
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There’s a lovely French touch to this, with the little onions or shallots and the mushrooms. The chicken is infused with wonderful garlicky, lemony flavours and the juices are amazing – with or without cream. A Sunday treat.
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6. Separate the head of garlic into cloves. Don’t peel them but just prick them all with a sharp knife and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Add the bacon, shallots or onions and the mushrooms and fry them gently over a medium heat until they’re all starting to soften and colour around the edges. Add most of the garlic cloves and 1 sprig of thyme, then sprinkle over the lemon zest.
3. Season the inside of the chicken cavity and pop in the other sprig of thyme and the rest of the garlic cloves. Spread the butter over the skin on the top of the chicken and season with salt and pepper.
4. Push the vegetables to the edges of the casserole dish and put the chicken in the centre. Pour in the stock around the sides.
5. Place the casserole dish on the hob and bring the stock to the boil, then put the lid on the dish and put it in the oven. Cook for 50 minutes, remove the lid and cook for another 20 minutes – the chicken skin should brown and crisp up in this time.
6. Check that the chicken is done – the juices should run clear in the thickest part of the leg when pierced with a skewer and the legs should feel loose if you pull them. If the chicken isn’t quite done, put it back in the oven for another 5–10 minutes. When the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a serving platter, then remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and add them to the platter with the chicken. Cover with foil to keep everything warm.
7. Squeeze the flesh out of the garlic cloves into the cooking liquid in the casserole dish and discard the skins. Simmer the liquid until it has reduced – the garlic will make it lovely and creamy but if you want it thicker still, add the double cream.
8. Taste the gravy and add a squeeze of lemon juice if you think it needs it. Pour the gravy into a warm jug or gravy boat and serve it with the chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle the veg with a handful of parsley before taking them to the table. This is lovely with some brown rice to soak up the juices.