Roast Chicken with Tarragon and Vanilla Sauce

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Good cooking is about keeping it simple, using the best ingredients you can find and getting the method right. Smearing your roast chicken with goose fat really makes a difference. (That’s what they do at L’Ami Louis in Paris, a restaurant that was voted one of the 50 best restaurants in the world.) We serve the chicken with a tarragon and vanilla cream sauce.

Serves 4-6


1 chicken, about 1600g, giblets removed, and patted dry with paper towels
2 tablespoons goose fat
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
200ml white wine
100ml single cream
4 teaspoons chopped tarragon
1 vanilla pod, split down the middle or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Put the roasting tray in the oven and preheat to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.

2. Smear the chicken all over with goose fat and season the bird.

3. Put the chicken, breast-side down, on an oiled roasting rack on the heated roasting tray. Roast for 15 minutes then turn the bird breast-side up.

4. Turn the oven up to 230º/450º/Gas Mark 8. Roast for another 30 minutes, checking to see if the juices in the thickest part of the leg run clear. If not, put it back in the oven for another five minutes, check again, and if not, put it back for another 5 minutes. (This is the way to make sure you get a succulent bird, not an over-cooked dry one. Remember that it will continue cooking after you take it out.) When the juices in the chicken run clear, remove from the oven, lift the bird onto a large plate, cover it loosely in tin foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

5. Scrape the juices from the baking tin into a saucepan, using a little of the white wine to deglaze the pan and to extract all the good flavour. Add the cream, chopped tarragon and the rest of the white wine. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the pan and throw in the pod too or add the vanilla extract. Cook for ten minutes over a low heat until the sauce reduces and the flavours come together. Make sure to cook the wine out of the sauce before serving.

6. Carve the bird, giving everyone a bit of breast. Serve the sauce over the chicken.

Recipe note: Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
This goes really well with buttermilk mashed potatoes. Just add a splash of buttermilk to hot mashed potatoes, along with a good knob of butter and a few tablespoons of cream. Whip until smooth.

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