Roast Tarragon Chicken

, from Issue #36. August, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Roast Tarragon Chicken

Serves: 4–6


1 free-range, corn-fed chicken
3 sprigs French tarragon
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Tarragon butter
50 grams butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon wholegrain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh French tarragon
finely grated zest 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed

To cook
8 baby leeks, washed and trimmed
8 spring onions
4 red onions, peeled and halved through the root
8 whole shallots, peeled with root intact
2 small whole heads of garlic, top third cut off
½ cup white wine
1 cup good chicken stock
¼ cup crème fraîche


Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Butter: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season.

Chicken: Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water and dry with kitchen towels. Halve the zested lemon and place it in the cavity with 1 tablespoon of the tarragon butter and the extra sprigs of tarragon.

Gently separate the skin from the breast by pushing two fingers in between the skin and the meat. Push half the tarragon butter underneath the skin on both sides of the breast. Tuck the wings underneath, tie the legs together with kitchen string around the parson’s nose and truss around the bird to secure the wings against the breast. Rub the remaining butter over the chicken and season well.

To cook: Put the chicken, vegetables, wine and stock in a large roasting dish and season. Roast for 70 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked through, basting the chicken and turning the vegetables occasionally. The juices from the chicken should run clear when a skewer is inserted in the thickest part of the thigh.

If the vegetables are cooked before the chicken, remove them to a platter and cover to keep warm. Add more stock or water to the roasting dish if needed so it doesn’t dry out.

To serve: Transfer the vegetables and chicken to a serving platter, cover loosely and keep warm. Place the roasting dish over a medium heat, add the crème fraiche and simmer until syrupy. Season, pour into a small jug and serve separately. 

To baste: to spoon or pour cooking juices, fat or other liquid such as a marinade over foods, usually meat, during cooking or grilling.

Pantry Note:
Tarragon: best known as one of the most important herbs in French cooking. It has a slightly anise flavour, used to enhance many classic dishes, including Béarnaise sauce. French tarragon has a much better flavour than Russian tarragon.