A three-time loser: a chicken, stuffed, roasted, then boiled

In the not-so-old days, chicken sat next to crayfish as the food of the fortunate. I remember seeing chicken once a year, at Christmas; although we did have it occasionally, as a ‘casserole’, in less celebratory times. Later I discovered foul play: the chicken in a casserole was more likely rabbit than chook.

Such deception seems impossible these days with foodie talk on everyone’s lips, and chicken so readily available they just about give it away. The down side of that mass production is the remarkable loss of flavour. But here and there you’ll find farmers sending the chickens back to the land, giving them select corn feed. The yellow colour of the skin and flesh and the subtle, yet individual, chicken flavour is returning. The extra cost is worth it.

a little rosemary, parsley, tarragon

12 sage leaves

zest of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped

1 chicken, preferably corn-fed, if you can find it, afford it

2 leeks, greens and roots removed, chopped roughly

a little olive oil

25g butter for the leeks

2 cups breadcrumbs

1 hot chilli, chopped

juice of 1 lemon

2 dessertspoons peanut butter

25g butter for the stuffing

1 egg

½ cup cream

salt black pepper


Heat the oven to flat out. Make a mix of chopped parsley, rosemary, tarragon, a few sage leaves, some of the lemon zest and half the garlic, and grind it into a paste. Force the paste underneath the skin of the chicken about the breast. Rub the outer skin dry.


Make the stuffing. Cook the leeks and the rest of the sage gently in the oil and the 25g butter until the leeks have softened and lost their white colour. Set aside half for the sauce. Mix the rest of the leeks-sage with the breadcrumbs, half the chilli, the juice of the lemon, the rest of the lemon zest, the rest of the garlic, the peanut butter and the 25g butter, and whizz with the egg. Ram three-quarters of the mix into the chook’s insides. Make potato like blobs of the rest and spread them around the outside of the bird.


Set the chicken on a rack and roast in a hot oven for about 30 minutes, basting the skin after about 20 minutes. Remove and keep in a warm place. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C.


Towards the end of the cooking, make a sauce with the leftover leeks, re-heated gently with the remaining chilli, a little more butter and the cream until the cream bubbles. If you had some chicken stock, you could add it to the cream and cook a little longer, still waiting for the cream to thicken. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper. A tiny touch of garam masala or curry powder would be delicious, added late and stirred through.


The breasts will be ready before the legs. Slice the breasts from the chicken and return the rest of the chicken to the oven for another 10 minutes to cook the legs through to the bone; the now vulnerable bones will also get a little exposed roasting, giving them a little more flavour for tomorrow’s stock.


Serve the breasts with the leek sauce and some of the stuffing from the cooking pan.


When the rest of the chicken is done, cut off the legs and wings and remove the now baked stuffing. Keep this lot for tomorrow’s lunch.


The chicken will now look a little shabby and dishevelled. Throw it into a stock pot with some sliced aromatic vegetables (carrots, onions, celery), a chilli or two, some garlic, ginger, half a bottle of white wine, and cover with water, bring to the boil, and simmer gently for a couple of hours, skimming as you go. Leave overnight to allow any fat to rise.


Toss away the exhausted carcass, and you are left with a lovely chicken stock. Use what you need and freeze the rest for another day.

WINE: I generally prefer red with chook. A full-flavoured cbardonnay will do the job, but I just like the red match. How about a rich, soft style like Wolf Blass Grey Label or Ryecroft Traditional (the 1988 if you can get it)?