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Best of Modern British Cookery
by Sarah Freeman
This recipe is designed simply to make the best of the flavour of an organic or free-range bird. It is essential that all the herbs (except bay leaves) are fresh. Use the carcass for stock. Organic celery generally has more taste and a gentler texture than the conventional version.  Serve with green beans and Puy lentils or organically grown brown rice, the nutty taste and texture of which complements the dish perfectly, followed by rocket or mushroom salad.
Cooking time is 1½--1¾ hours.
For 4


    • 3 large sticks celery, preferably organic
    • 4 oz (1 large or 2 smallish) carrots
    • 5 oz (1 medium) onion
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 3 or 4 sprigs parsley
    • 2 or 3 longish sprigs rosemary (enough for 2 tablespoonsful when chopped)
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 organic lemon (zest only)
    • 5 oz unsmoked streaky bacon
    • 2½ to 3 lb organic or free-range chicken
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • 3 tablespoonsful oil
    • 1/2 pint dry white wine


Trim the ends of the celery; wash, dry, and cut it into slices 1/3-inch thick. Peel and thinly slice the carrot; peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Trim the ends of bought parsley stems, wash the parsley, and tie it into a bunch. Wash and shake or blot the rosemary dry; strip off the leaves (pull downwards) and chop them finely. Wash fresh bay leaves; scrub the lemon. Trim off the rind and dice the bacon. Untruss the chicken, remove the giblets, which are not needed for this recipe, and thoroughly wash and dry it inside and out; season lightly inside and outside with salt and fairly generously outside with pepper.

Set the oven 400°F. Warm 2 tablespoonsful of the oil in a wok or frying pan over moderately high heat and brown the chicken lightly on all sides. Baste the parts which do not touch the pan with the hot oil. Put both chicken and oil into a casserole. Wipe the pan clean, add the remaining 1 tablespoonful of oil and fry the onion and bacon for 2 minutes, still over moderately high heat; turn frequently Add the garlic and continue to fry, turning constantly, for 2-3 minutes more or until the onion is just beginning to change colour. Add the rosemary and turn for 1-2 minutes; add the celery and carrot and turn for another minute. Add the wine, bring just to the boil, and pour the contents of the pan over the chicken. Pare off two good-sized strips of lemon peel and lay it on top of the chicken with the bay leaves and parsley Cover and cook for 1¼--1½ hours or until the chicken is very tender and no pink liquid emerges when it is pierced to the bone in the thickest part. Set the rice or lentils to cook when the chicken has been in the oven for 45 minutes. (The rice takes only 30 minutes to cook but should be left to dry for a further 10-15 minutes).

Carve and serve.


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