THE ISLAND COOK

LEMON & WILD GARLIC ROASTED CHICKEN WITH RAISIN, ORANGE PEPPER & PINE NUT RICE

This has a foot firmly in the trad roast camp but with a big toe dipping into warmer waters in the hope that we can once again lift our faces to the kind old sun. It's also easy on effort with its one-pot rice accompaniment. The wild garlic leaves placed inside the bird gently infuse it with a faint, mellow aura of garlic in contrast to the more genital-grabbing impact of the bulb. And it means you can use less than perfect specimens with no worries. Instead of folding in more leaves (rolled and sliced) into the rice, try snipped chives for an alternative zippy green allium hit.

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Serves 6

1.5kg decent chicken
a few wild garlic leaves, washed and patted dry
1/2 lemon
1 tsp dried thyme
600ml hot chicken stock
50g raisins
pinch of saffron threads
1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
350g easy-cook long-grain rice
30g pine nuts, lightly toasted

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Preheat your oven to 19°0C/fan 170°C/Gas 5. Place the chicken in a roasting tin and thrust about 3 wild garlic leaves into its cavity. Rub all over the skin with the cut side of the lemon half. Stir the dried thyme into a couple of teaspoons olive oil and brush all over the skin, then season well with salt and black pepper. Slip into the oven and roast for about 1 hour 20 minutes, or until the juices run clear when you probe the thickest part of the thigh with a knife tip.
Meanwhile, pour your hot stock over the raisins in a bowl, crumble in the saffron and set aside while you get on with frying stuff off for the rice. Heat the oil in a largeish saucepan with a well-fitting lid, add the bay leaf and fennel seeds and cook for a few minutes until the seeds are lightly toasted. Add the shallots and cook gently, stirring, for about 3 minutes until softened. Add the orange pepper and fresh thyme and cook for about 8 minutes until softened. Add the rice and stir for a few moments until well mixed with all the bits and bobs. Stir in the saffron-infused stock and raisins and bring to the boil. Cover and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for a few minutes before fluffing up with a fork and folding in the pine nuts, along with a wild garlic leaf or 2, rolled up and and thinly sliced, if you fancy. Replace the lid and keep warm. Once your bird is cooked, transfer to a warmed carving dish and leave to rest while you skim off the fat from the pan juices. When plated up, drizzle the reheated juices over the rice.