RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Herby lemon chicken with Tuscan beans

Herby lemon chicken
Herby lemon chicken

TRY this alternative to a traditional Sunday roast.

INGREDIENTS

1 large chicken, between 1.5kg-2kg/3lb 5oz-4lb 8oz, depending on how many you’re feeding

zest and juice 1 lemon

3 tbsp olive oil

thyme sprigs, some leaves stripped, some sprigs just pulled into pieces

FOR THE BEANS

140g pack cubetti di pancetta

4 celery sticks, very finely chopped

2 fat garlic cloves, sliced

2 x 400g cans butter beans, rinsed and drained

1 thyme sprig

small glass white wine (about 125-150ml)

300ml chicken stock

small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

METHOD:

1. First, spatchcock the chicken. Sit the chicken on a board, breast-side down with the wing-end away from you. Use a strong pair of kitchen scissors to cut along either side of the backbone to remove it, cutting through the ribs as you go. Open out the chicken like a book, flip so it is now breast- side up, then press down on the breasts with the heel of your hand to flatten slightly - you are trying to get an even thickness across the whole joint. If you have any long skewers, diagonally criss-cross two, skewering through the legs and breast to hold in position. Sit the chicken in a dish or roasting tin. Mix the lemon zest and juice, olive oil and thyme with some pepper, rub all over the chicken, then cover and chill for up to a day.

2. Get the beans ready by gently frying the pancetta in a pan - you shouldn’t need any extra oil if you start it slowly. When the pancetta is golden and crisp, lift it out with a slotted spoon, then add the celery and garlic to the remaining fat in the pan. Gently cook for 10-12 mins until soft. Scrape into a medium-size deep roasting tin or baking dish with the pancetta, butter beans, thyme, wine, stock and plenty of seasoning. Set aside until ready to cook.

3. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Transfer the chicken to a rack, breastside up, that will rest above the beans (sit the beans on a large baking sheet if the chicken overhangs at all, to keep your oven clean). Season the chicken with salt and roast for 40-50 mins until the chicken is cooked through - cut into one of the legs to check. Lift the chicken out to rest for 10 mins. If the beans are a bit soupy, transfer to the hob and simmer for a minute to reduce some of the juices - they should still be nice and wet though.

4. To serve, cut the legs, thighs and wings from the chicken, then thickly carve or tear off the breast in chunks. Check the beans for seasoning, then stir through the parsley and serve with the chicken.