A good recipe for a day spent in the kitchen with friends. Trust me , you cannot leave the chicken alone, plus you will need help at some point lifting, basting, etc, or risk a burn.
For the Chicken:
1 whole medium roasting chicken
sprigs of fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram and lavender
up to 3 cups sweet white wine, I like to use the maple apple wine from Putney Winery
2 sticks unsalted butter
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
For the Stuffing
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 heirloom apples, preferably one each, tart and cooking apples
1 1/2 cup walnuts
2 small dried figs
1 1/4 pinch each :
mace, juniper berries, white pepper, ground allspice and ground clove
one sheet foil
roasting pan with rack or low shallow pan
roasting forks or two sets of sharp tongs
a processor/ without a processor, mash apples through a sieve and grind the nuts seperate in a mortar and pestle or a nut grinder.
a baster and brush
Clean the chicken and massage the skin with one pinch of shortening to loosen it from the meat. Set up your pan, and gently lift skin from neck area first, little by little work fingers under skin, then do the same from the bottom. This creates pockets for the herbs, douse hands with wine and sprinkle some on the outside and inside of the skin, then massage tots of butter into the underside of the skin and the meat, then place sprigs of herbs, if desired you can sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper, but I prefer to leave this to guests liking after the bird is cooked. Reserve 1 and a half sticks of butter and the rest of the shortening for basting with the rest of the wine.
Chop the apples and walnuts in the processor then add all the spices, save the juniper berries. Pulse the spices into the mash, then add the onion and shallots and pulse. It should be nice a mushy, almost a paste, if its too liquid add walnuts to level the consistency. Then add the juniper berries and use a spatula to fold them in. Dice the figs and fold them into the paste.Go back to your chicken and use a towel to dry the interior cavity. Then get messy stuffing the chicken with the paste one its stuffed, truss the chicken for baking, folding the wings and connecting the legs to hold the stuffing. If desired you can use a trussing needle and lace the stuffing in.
Take parchment and create a tent to place over the top of the chicken , to prevent over roasting the top skin, foil can be used if the parchment is not preventing over browning.
If desired you can place whole cooking apples, onions, golden beets, etc. beneath the chicken , Be careful of the onions and apples, they will turn to absolute mush if the chicken is taking a while to cook.
Put the chicken in the oven at 375 degrees.
It will roast depending on the size of the bird at
5 lbs = 1 1/2 hours
8lbs= 1 3/4 hours
12lbs= 2 1/2 hours
15lbs = 2 3/4 hours
20 lb= 3 1/2 hour ( if you find a chicken over 20 pounds, call Guinness World Records , for shame gmo’s)
Every 15 to 20 minutes remove the chicken and bast with a mix of the wine and fats, brush the skin and make sure that it remains moist, it will turn crackly and crisp. This will also keep the meat moist.
When the skin and the meat are done ( a good way to check, lift chicken, go to the back of the thigh and puncture shallow and pull slightly to see if there is pink, if still pink, keep it going) take it out and let it rest, if you cut it now,just like red meat it will lose its moist nature and turn dry on you.
Un truss before taking to the table. If it ends up ugly looking , do not fuss, it will taste incredible, and can always be made to look pretty with those apples and onions you roasted along with.
Pairs well with green beans, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and all kinds of salads.