We recently drove to Cornwall, stopping off at a friend’s house overnight to break up the journey. With piles of people to feed, she roasted a couple of chickens and filled the table with a colourful and mouthwatering selection of salads and sauces. It is hard to overstate the pleasure I felt breathing in that warm, familiar smell as the chickens emerged fragrant from the oven. This gutsy, olive-studded garlic butter gives mine a Provençal feel – a corner of the world I have missed. It makes the most delicious stock, too.
Roast chicken with crisp potatoes and black olive garlic butter
Crisp, golden, garlicky potatoes and juicy roast chicken flecked with olives and herbs make for a pitch perfect alfresco feast.
Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr 45
1 chicken (about 1.6kg)
1.3kg new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into similar-sized chunks
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
Salt and pepper
60g black kalamata olives, pitted
2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, or 1 tsp dried
5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
200g cherry tomatoes
Heat the oven to its highest setting. Take the chicken and butter out of the fridge and leave to come up to room temperature. Steam the potatoes for 12-14 minutes, until just tender. Very finely chop the garlic, then add a teaspoon of salt and crush to a paste with the flat of the knife. Add the olives and oregano, and finely chop into the garlic paste. Transfer to a bowl with the softened butter, season with plenty of black pepper and the zest of the lemon, and mix to combine.
Gently lift the skin of the chicken away from the breast and thighs, just enough to be able to smear the butter mix generously under the skin, then push any leftover butter into the cavity of the chicken. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the chicken and season generously inside and out.
Put the steamed potatoes in a large roasting tin, gently bash with a rolling pin to smash them a little, then pour over the olive oil and scatter with the thyme and tomatoes. Slice the rest of the lemon and add to the tray, too. Nestle the chicken in among the potatoes, put the tray in the hot oven and turn down the heat to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Cook for just over an hour – give it 30 minutes a kilo, plus 10 minutes for good measure. Test the chicken by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh – when it’s cooked, the juices will run clear. Transfer the chicken to a warm plate, loosely cover with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss the potatoes in the pan juices, whack the oven up to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7 and roast for another 15 minutes, to get a final bit of colour.
Carve the chicken and serve with the crispy potatoes and a salad or some greens.