Roast Chicken with Sage, Butter: Sage is a really underused herb and goes perfectly with chicken. In fact, I sometimes serve this with a pile of deep fried, crisp sage leaves. Bread sauce is sometimes seen as unfashionable but, properly made, it can be a joy with its silky texture and perfume from the herbs and onion. Perfect for dunking buttery, sagey chicken into!
Preparation time: 1 hour 25 minutes Serves: 4
- 5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) free-range or organic chicken
- 50 g (2 oz) butter, softened
- 8 large fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- 8 rashers of dry-cured streaky bacon or 8 slices of pancetta
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
- freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- crisp roast potatoes and steamed green vegetables, to serve
For The Bread Sauce:
- 300 ml (V2 pint) milk
- 2 blades of mace (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- a few black peppercorns
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 small onion, peeled and halved
- 2 cloves
- about 75 g (3 oz) fresh breadcrumbs
- 50 g (2 oz) butter
- 2 tablespoons double cream (for ultimate luxury)
How to Roast Chicken with Sage, Butter, Bacon and Bread Sauce
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Untruss the chicken and slash through the skin joining the legs to the breasts. Let them flop open to ensure even cooking. Allow the chicken to reach cool room temperature before cooking.
- Beat the butter in a bowl and stir in the sage. Finely chop 2 rashers of bacon or 2 slices of pancetta and beat into the butter, with the lemon rind, salt and pepper. Using your fingers, loosen the skin around the neck area of the chicken and slowly work your hands under the skin, loosening it from the breast all the way towards the thighs. Take the sage butter in your hand and smooth it all over the breast to form an even layer under the skin. Pat the skin down again to remove any air pockets. Tuck the loose neck flap under the bird. Sit the chicken in a roasting tin and season well. Drape the remaining bacon or pancetta over the breast and legs. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, basting every now and then with the pan juices.
- Meanwhile, start the bread sauce. Pour the milk into a pan and add the mace (if using), bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns and garlic. Stick a clove into each onion half. Add the onion to the milk, making sure the cloves are submerged, and slowly bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to stand and infuse for at least 30 minutes.
- After the chicken has been roasting for 40 minutes, remove the bacon or pancetta and keep warm. Turn the oven up to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6, baste the chicken with the pan juices and return to the oven for another 20 minutes to brown and finish cooking and for the skin to get really crisp.
- The Roast Chicken with Sage, Butter, Bacon & Bread Sauce has is ready to be served enjoy.