Charred chicken recipe

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Brining the chicken overnight and then charring it before roasting adds an amazing tenderness and depth of flavour to this roast. It would be divine served with the Sautéed Brussels with Pancetta & Hazelnuts.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 3 lb 5-oz (1 x 1.5-kg) chicken
Overnight Brine
  • small bunch fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • ¾ cup (150 g) rock salt
  • ¾ cup (175 g) plus 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) plus 1 tbsp malt vinegar
  • 3 litres/quarts water
For Roasting
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp (15 g) butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 pitted prunes
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • generous ½ cup (130 ml) Cognac
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
  • generous 2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • griddle pan/grill pan
  • cooking string
How to Make It
  1. To make the brine, place the bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, sugar, vinegar and water in a big saucepan (large enough to fit your chicken) over a high heat. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Place the chicken, breast-side down, in the brine. Cover with the lid and refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of 12 hours.
  3. When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4. Scatter the carrots and onions in a small roasting pan and set aside.
  4. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat the skin dry with paper towels, using a very large sharp knife, cut lengthways down the centre of the chicken to spilt it into two halves.
  5. Warm the griddle pan/grill pan over a high heat and griddle/grill the chicken halves, skin-side down, for 6–8 minutes each until the skin is nicely charred all over.
  6. Place the chicken halves on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. Brush the chicken skin with the melted butter, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the prunes and thyme sprigs around the chicken and pour in 100 ml/⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp of the Cognac. Roast the chicken in the preheated oven for 1 hour until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through.
  7. Transfer the chicken halves and roasted prunes to a plate and cover with foil to rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Put the roasting pan on the hob/stove-top over a medium heat. Break up all the cooking bits, including the roasted onions and carrots, and add the remaining Cognac and the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring. Stir in the chicken stock and cook for about 10 minutes until the gravy has thickened. Serve with the chicken, reserved prunes and Velvet Pomme Purée.
  9. Velvet Pomme Puree
  10. Peel the potatoes and cut into even cubes. Boil in a large saucepan of salted water for about 12–15 minutes until tender.
  11. Drain well, then return to the pan and dry-cook for 1–2 minutes over a medium heat.
  12. Turn off the heat and mash the potatoes or press through a ricer back into the pan – they should be totally lump-free. (Don't use a food processor as it will make the potatoes gluey.)
  13. Gradually beat the butter into the potato purée until shiny.
  14. Heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan until just boiling, then slowly mix into the potato purée with some salt and black pepper (you may not need all the milk mixture). The potato should become a soft velvety purée. Mix in the truffle oil and more seasoning to taste. Keep warm until required or cool and chill. When reheating, add extra creamy milk to soften and/or extra butter.

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