Can you imagine what big chunks of crusty white bread taste like after they have been roasted under a chicken for 50 minutes while soaking up all the flavoursome chicken juices and becoming crisp in the fat? Then add those unbelievably tasty pieces of bread to a tarragon, lettuce, spring onion salad covered in roast chicken portions – heaven on a plate.
This is one of those brilliant dishes that doesn’t take too much effort to make and when done, it goes in the centre of the table for everyone to help themselves. It’s perfect as it is, but if you need more food for the hungry ones, then boiled new potatoes with a little butter is a damn good partner.
Miraculous ingredients: tarragon, good quality bread and white wine vinegar
Roast chicken salad with bread, tarragon and spring onions
1.5kg to 2kg whole chicken
5 thick slices of rustic white bread, cut into 3cm cubes
¼ cup chicken stock (Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients chicken stock is the best)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 soft round green lettuce, washed, dried and torn into pieces
4 spring onions, finely chopped
10g fresh tarragon leaves
sea salt, to season
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (Grey Poupon Dijon mustard is the best)
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10g tarragon leave, finely chopped ½ teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 230C.
Coat a 30cm cast iron frying pan/skillet with ½ tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Toss the bread cubes in the chicken stock and arrange the pieces in a single layer in the pan. Place the crusted pieces in the centre, crust side up.
Take the chicken out of the fridge, remove all the packaging and with a pair of sharp kitchen scissors cut out the back bone. Place the chicken on a wooden board, skin side up and use both hands to push down on the chicken breast bone to flatten it out slightly.
Place the chicken on top of the bread in the cast iron pan and cover with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt.
Roast a 1.5kg chicken for 50 minutes and a 2kg chicken for 55 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer (they are amazing!) the temperature in the thickest part of the breast is 70C and the thigh 78C when done.
When golden and crisp, remove the chicken from the oven and place uncovered on a warm plate for 15 minutes to rest. Carve the chicken – I like the breast meat cut in to large pieces, each with some crispy skin.
Use a metal spatula to free the bread cubes from the bottom of the pan and turn them over so the slightly soggy top can toast against the residual heat in the cast iron pan.
The dressing: whisk the mustard and vinegar together until the mustard has dissolved. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking vigorously to emulsify the oil and vinegar. Add the chopped tarragon, salt and whisk.
Place the washed and dried lettuce, spring onions and whole pieces of tarragon in a large bowl and thoroughly mix with the dressing.
Transfer the dressed salad to a large serving dish, arrange the carved pieces of chicken on top and scatter with toasted bread.
Preparation time 10 minutes, cooking time 50 minutes, serves 4
Served with garlic sauce (Toum , Lebanese garlic sauce recipe)