Holy Lord! It’s cold around here. Temperatures had dropped below freezing and I had got myself into a real deep winter gloom. This was driven by a number of factors. Firstly, it’s winter. Secondly, we seem to be living in very pessimistic times. Thirdly, the media have been whipping up a storm about the cold weather. One newspaper here in Ireland was telling us to expect “Thundersnow”. They also reported on roads grinding to a halt and flights being cancelled. Thankfully, I’m not completely gullible to this shock tactic journalism. I read elsewhere that “Thundersnow” is not a meteorological term. I also found out that the only flights that were cancelled from Dublin were because of snow in London. Pathetic standards. But the sort of journalism we must expect in a clickbait, post truth world. Now, back to the chicken…
In an effort to shake off the effects of the thundersnow that never arrived, I set to thinking about happier times. One of the most enjoyable times the Wife and I spent last summer was dining with Stéphane Garbart in his garden at Libourne, in the south of France. Stéphane served us a wonderful lunch, sitting in the dappled shade (not a flake of thundersnow in sight). We enjoyed a delicious olive stuffed roast chicken as part of that afternoon long relaxation. I thought the best way to banish our winter blues and the journalistic bull was to recreate something akin to that lovely dish. So, here’s my take on Olive Stuffed Roast Chicken.
- 1 large, organic, free range, high quality chicken (this one weighed in at 2.2 kilos / just short of 5lbs)
- 200 grammes or so of best quality pitted olives
- 4 to 6 anchovy fillets
- About a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
- 3 cloves of garlic
- A little good quality olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Side note on seasoning the chicken. In numerous recipes I have read the instruction “season the bird both outside and inside the cavity”. I have never managed to season a chicken inside the cavity. Far too much work. That is until now. Simply add the salt and pepper to a little olive oil, stir to incorporate and then rub the oil inside the cavity and all over the outside of the bird. Job done.
Rub the chicken all over with the oil/seasoning mixture.
Slice the garlic into thin slices and then slice the anchovies. Layer the olives, anchovy and garlic slices into the cavity that you have already seasoned. The end result will look something like this;
Tie the legs of the chicken together with some butcher’s twine. Place the chicken in a 200ºC oven for an hour and three-quarters. The end result should look something like this;
Let the bird rest for fifteen minutes while you fry some delicious potato slices. You can make a gravy from the pan juices and a few olives too. Carve the chicken and serve with olives, fried potatoes, green beans and gravy. It is delicious. We had it with a glass or two of a nice white wine from near Libourne. We ate this delicious dish in our kitchen on a cold, damp Irish evening. However, the chicken and happy memories of our times in France with Stéphane gave us an inner glow.
No amount of cooking will stop journalists from sinking to the lows and scare tactics that produce the likes of ‘thundersnow’. But, it sure makes it easier to bear the gloomy Irish winter. Bon appetit, as they say in Libourne.