When I compiled my Christmas course menu, I concentrated on the starters, dessert and sensational salads, rather than the main course, and had no idea that this simple but exotically fragrant dish would become so popular.
It has all the flavours of Christmas-port, star anise, cinnamon-with a touch of vinegar balancing the flavours so as not to yield a very sweet dish.
A spatchcocked chicken is the quickest and best way to roast a chicken but they are always sold spiced or marinated so you need to ask your butcher to assist.
This dish is dependent on the size and depth of your baking tray. I find that low and wide baking dishes/oven pans tend to dry out the sauce while deeper smaller trays yield more liquid. Keep an eye on your chicken-you can always add more liquid or reduce the liquid.
You could also strain the liquid, pour into a dish, place your chicken pieces and fresh figs on top of sauce and refrigerate overnight. If you would like more sauce, simply add more stock and port to your pan and thicken with an extra tablespoon of mazeina if necessary.
On Christmas day or eve, simply bring the dish to room temperature and place uncovered in an oven for about 30 minutes or until heated through.
SPATCHCOCKED FREE-RANGE CHICKEN IN A PORT, FIG AND HONEY BATH (10)
- About 6-8 dried figs/100-150g snipped (should equate to about ½-3/4 cup chopped)
- 1cup port
- 2 large whole free-range chicken, spatchcocked (Delft Butchery will do this for you)
- 4 star anise
- 1 cinnamon quill
- Rind of 1 large lemon sliced into strips
- 2 cups water-more if your oven tray is quite shallow
- 2 tablespoons mazeina mixed with a little water
- ¼ cup verjuice/white balsamic or rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons NoMu chicken fond (stock liquid)
- 2 tablespoons English mustard
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- Honey to drizzle (about 2-3 tablespoons in total)
- Falk/Maldon salt
- Heat the oven to 200 ˚C
- Microwave the figs in port for 4 minutes or until soft or soak overnight
- Combine the mazeina, water, lemon rind, spices, mustard, vinegar and stock
- Place the chicken in a large oven dish and pour over all the ingredients
- Drizzle honey on the chicken skin and sprinkle with salt
- Roast for an hour or until golden brown with clear running juices and a beautifully reduced sauce
- Break/cut the chicken into portions and slice the breasts
COOK’s Notes: Fresh quartered figs can be added in the final 15 minutes of cooking. This is also delicious served with crusty baguette to dunk in the sauce and a crisp side salad.