A light, fresh dish to impress guests or family looking for an alternative Christmas dinner. The key is a good chicken – I used a Harmony free-range chicken and jellied chicken stock – and it was succulent and tasty.
1 x size 14 free-range chicken
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tablespoon melted butter mixed with 1 tablespoon olive oil
400-500ml jellied chicken stock
flaky sea salt
350 grams good quality ricotta (I used Zany Zeus brand)
lemon-infused olive oil
flaky sea salt
few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
½ teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1½ tablespoons raspberry or berry fruit vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cream, lightly whipped
3-4 just-ripe peaches
extra virgin olive oil
2 baby cos lettuces
½ cup black olives
handful small mint leaves
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Chicken: Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, removing any lumps of fat from inside the cavity. Put bay leaves inside, then truss the chicken. Place in a shallow roasting tin that holds it snugly. Brush with the combined butter and oil. Pour 1 cup of chicken stock around the chicken and sprinkle with salt.
Roast for 1½ hours or until cooked through. Baste several times during cooking, adding more stock as required. About halfway through, tilt the chicken and let the cooking juices flow into the roasting tin. If you run out of stock, add a little water. Be careful not to let the juices catch and burn.
Remove from the dish and transfer to a board. Rest for 30-40 minutes before assembling the salad. Do not wash the roasting dish.
Preheat oven to 210°C.
Ricotta: Slice the ricotta thickly and transfer to a shallow ovenproof dish lined with baking paper. Drizzle with a little lemon oil, sprinkle with salt and dot with the thyme leaves. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden on top.
Tilt the roasting dish and scoop off the fat. Set the dish over a medium heat and add ¼ cup stock and bring to the boil. Set aside.
Dressing: Mix the mustard, vinegar, oil and salt together. Add a little black pepper and whisk in the cream.
Salad: Cut off thick rounded slices from the peaches and brush the cut sides with olive oil. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and cook the peaches cut side down first until grill marks show, then turn and cook the other side. Transfer to a plate.
Arrange the cos lettuce leaves on a serving platter or individual plates.
To assemble: Remove the chicken meat from the bones while still warm, discarding un-crunchy skin, bone, gristle and any fat. Keep pieces larger than bite-sized. Top the cos lettuce leaves with warm chicken, olives, mint leaves, grilled peaches and slices of baked ricotta. Reheat the chicken juices and spoon over the chicken. Whisk the dressing again and spoon over the other ingredients. Serve immediately.