'Spring has arrived and the woodland floor is covered with wild garlic. This recipe combines a roasted spatchcock chicken with wild garlic to create a dish that perfectly suits the season. Cooking it in this way means I can produce a roast in under an hour. It's also the best way to cook a chicken on the barbecue'
Roast spatchcock chicken with wild-garlic rub and root-vegetable crisps
2 handfuls fresh wild garlic
1 red chilli
Juice of 1 lemon
125ml olive oil
1 whole chicken
2 sweet potatoes
50ml olive oil
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
10 leaves of wild garlic
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Whizz up the wild garlic, chilli, lemon juice, olive oil and some seasoning in a bowl using a stick blender. Set it aside so the flavours infuse while you prepare the chicken.
Place your whole chicken onto a board, breast side down. Take kitchen shears and cut it from base to neck on either side of the backbone and remove the bone-keep it for making stock or simply discard it. Turn the bird over so that it’s now breast side up and pull the sides out so that all the skin is facing upwards (which means it’ll become crispy all over, not just on the breast meat). Press down firmly on the breastbones to flatten the whole bird.
Pour the wild garlic and chilli marinade all over the chicken and, using a pastry brush, ensure it’s evenly spread over the whole bird. Put it to one side to marinate while you prepare the root-vegetable crisps.
Peel the sweet potatoes and potatoes and discard the peelings. Using a vegetable peeler, cut them into thin peelings. Do the same with the courgettes. Arrange all of these in a single layer on a baking-parchmentlined baking tray and drizzle the olive oil over them. Mix it well so the oil covers the surfaces of each peeling and then throw on the herbs, the whole leaves of wild garlic and some pepper (salt will cause them to leech water and we want them to crisp up, so only add salt at the end).
Put the chicken and the vegetables into the oven at the same time and cook for about 45 minutes. When the chicken has cooked, remove it from the oven to rest. If, at this point, the vegetables aren’t quite as crispy as you’d like, move them to the top shelf of the oven and turn up the heat for five minutes. Remove them from the oven once crispy and sprinkle with salt.
Serve the spatchcock chicken with the vegetable crisps and a healthy watercress salad.
More ways with wild garlic
Wild garlic and chanterelle-mushroom toasts
Fry 300g chanterelles and two chopped spring onions in a little butter. Pour a glass of dry white wine over them and simmer until cooked. Stir a handful of wild garlic through them and mix until wilted. Add 200ml chicken stock, a splash of double cream and seasoning and cook for a further five minutes to thicken. Serve on toasted ciabatta for an easy yet delicious supper.
Seafood chowder with wild garlic
Fry a chopped celery stalk, a carrot, an onion and a potato in a little olive oil. Add 200g of mixed seafood (such as cod, haddock, prawns, mussels and clams), a few sprigs of lemon thyme and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add a tablespoon of plain flour. Mix well before pouring enough milk to cover it over the mixture. Simmer until cooked. Stir a handful of wild garlic through it. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche, cracked pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
As wild garlic will soon vanish from the shady woods until next year, harvest as much as you can now and chop it up for storing in freezer bags to use year-round.
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