I never use anything other than a well-brought-up chook. The flavour and texture are so incredibly different from that of a mass-produced bird that you’d wonder whether they were the same species. But note that there is little point buying a free-range chook under 2 kg: the smaller birds haven’t had the time to develop these exceptional qualities.

Method:

  • Preheat a fan forced oven to 200°C.
  • Blanch the unpeeled garlic in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain.
  • Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the cavity of the chicken, then rub the skin with the rosemary, extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the breast (only) with foil and sit the chook on a trivet in a shallow baking dish (about 5 cm deep), then transfer to the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 40 minutes.
  • After the 40 minutes remove the foil and pour 125ml Verjuice and 125ml water over the chicken and put the blanched garlic into the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Cook for a further 20 minutes. Remove the chook and place breast side down onto a warm serving plate and cover well with foil, then allow to rest for 25 minutes.
  • To make a jus, pour all the pan juices from the baking dish into a small sauce pan and add 1 cup of warm chicken stock, pour into a narrow serving jug, then refrigerate this while the chicken is resting.
  • Just before serving, scoop away the fat that has risen to the top, warm the remaining jus.
  • Carve the chook, then pour over the jus and serve with the roasted garlic, boiled waxy potatoes and a bitter green salad.