Fast-Roast Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon
- 3 lb. free range chicken
- 1/2 small lemon, thinly sliced and the slices halved, plus the juice of the remaining lemon
- 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves, or rosemary, or sage, or thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed and/or shallots
- 1 tablespoon softened butter
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 1/3 cups dry white wine
- salt and freshly milled black pepper
You will also need a roasting pan measuring approximately 9 x 11 inches, 2 inches deep.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Begin by taking the chicken from the refrigerator about an hour before you intend to cook it (if it's a hot day, give it about 30 minutes only), and remove the string or wire holding the legs of the bird together so that the joints are loose - this will take the chill off the bird and help it to cook in the shorter time.
Make a garlic and herb butter by placing the garlic, 2 tablespoons of the chopped tarragon leaves, and the butter in a bowl and combine them with a fork, adding some salt and pepper. Then place the herb butter inside the body cavity of the bird, along with the halved lemon slices. Spread a little of the olive oil over the bottom of the roasting pan, place the chicken in it, then spread the rest of the olive oil all over the skin of the bird. Lastly, season well with salt and black pepper, and then pop the roasting pan into the lower third of the oven. Now let it roast for
45 minutes without opening the oven door. When this time is up, remove the bird from the oven. Next, put a wooden spoon into the body cavity and, using a spatula to hold the breast end, tip the chicken to pour out the buttery juices and slices of lemon into the roasting pan. Transfer the bird on to a carving board, cover with foil, and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, using a tablespoon, skim off the excess fat from the juices in the roasting pan, then place the pan over direct heat, add the wine and lemon juice, and let the liquid bubble and reduce to about half its original volume. Now, add the remaining tarragon, then taste and check the seasoning. Carve the chicken onto warm plates and add any juices to the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.