Summer Sunday lunch growing up was often roast chicken with Dad’s tomatoes from the garden and Saturday’s leftover bread. After a modern makeover it’s a firm favourite in my family, where we fight over the bread. One side is crispy and the other soft and delicious, flavoured with the chicken, butter, and herbs.
– Kevin Hopgood
Summer Roast Chicken
- 1 size 14-16 free-range chicken
- Approximately 90ml olive oil (I like Weka olive oil from Nelson), divided
- 1 ciabatta loaf, cut horizontally into 2 flat pieces
- 1 bunch mixed soft herbs
- 50g butter, at room temperature
- Salt and pepper
- 3 red onions, cut into wedges
- 10 medium vine tomatoes, quartered (or 20 baby plum tomatoes, halved)
- 1 bulb garlic, separated into cloves, skin on
- 4 handfuls rocket
- Freshly grated Parmesan, to finish
Preheat oven to 200˚C.
Spatchcock the chicken: Remove the backbone by cutting down both sides with a knife or poultry scissors and pulling it out. Spread the chicken flat, skin side up, and press down on the breastbone to crack it. Make some incisions into the chicken legs down to the bone, which will help them to cook evenly alongside the breasts.
Drizzle a few tablespoons of oil into a large roasting tin and place the bread side by side and cut side up on the bottom.
Finely chop half of the herbs and mix into the butter. Use your fingers to carefully loosen the skin from the chicken breasts. Spoon the herb butter under the skin and rub it directly onto the meat in an even layer. Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Toss onions, tomatoes, and garlic in the remaining olive oil and the pepper and scatter over the bread. Place the chicken on top, skin side up. Roast for 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.
Let the whole dish stand for 15 minutes before serving.
To serve, transfer chicken to a plate. Cut bread into chunks and arrange on a warm serving dish.