1 x 2kg free range Chicken
Squeeze lemon juice to taste
80ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil to taste
Handful thyme sprigs to serve
Hazelnut & Herb Stuffing
1/4 cup hazelnut
40g traditionally smoked belly bacon rind removed
2 chicken livers
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus extra if needed
2 onions finely chopped
1 small handful thyme leaves
1 small handful fresh rosemary leaves
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup morello cherries.
1. Take chook out of the refrigerator one hour before cooking.
2. To prepare the stuffing, preheat a fan-forced oven to 180°C.
3. Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden, checking them frequently to make sure they don’t burn. Immediately wrap In a clean tea towel and rub to remove the skins. Shake the hazelnuts in a sieve to get rid of the skins, then set aside to cool.
4. Roughly chop.
5. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat, then add the bacon and cook for 1 minute, tossing occasionally.
6. Transfer to a plate and roughly chop when cooled. Add the chicken livers to the pan and cook for 30–45 seconds on each side or until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and leave to rest for 5 minutes, then remove and discard any sinew and chop into small chunks.
7. Wipe out the pan, pour in the oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally.
8. Add the rosemary and thyme and cook for just a minute, then transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the garlic, breadcrumbs, cherries and chopped hazelnuts, mixing well, then add the liver and bacon and gently stir to just combine. Add some extra oil if necessary to bind the mixture, then set aside to cool.
9. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 200°C.
10. Wipe the skin of the chicken and clean the inside cavity with paper towel. Squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice into the cavity, then fill it with the cooled stuffing. Rub the chicken all over with half the olive oil and the salt.
11. Place a trivet or a wire rack in a shallow roasting pan. Fold the wing tips under the bird and place on the rack, breast-side up. Cover the breast loosely with foil to prevent it overcooking, then roast for 30 minutes.
12. Remove the chicken from the oven and take off the foil. Brush the breast with the remaining oil and drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the Verjuice. Add a little water to the pan to prevent the Verjuice from burning.
13. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C fan-forced, then return the chicken to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes. Check by inserting a skewer through the thickest part of the thigh joint to make sure the juices run clear.
14. Remove from the oven and turn it over in the pan so that it is breast-side down, drizzling with remaining Verjuice. Leave it to rest, covered loosely with foil, in the roasting juices for at least 20 minutes before carving.