Chicken is such an easy, relatively lean, and nutritious meal to cook – rich in protein, iron, B vitamins, and the antioxidant selenium. Using a whole chicken can also be very economical, as after roasting you can use any leftovers in a soup or stew, or boil the bones and carcass to whip up a nutritious broth or stock. Most fresh herbs are packed full of aromatic constituents that have some medicinal value, and studies looking at tarragon have found it has beneficial effects on appetite control, sleep, and blood sugar regulation. While you would probably have to eat a lot of tarragon to experience all of these benefits, tarragon also contains key vitamins and minerals like potassium, iron and manganese which our bodies need to function properly. The garlic in this recipe is brilliant for everything, from being a potent anti-viral, to helping lower cholesterol. The active compound in garlic is called allicin, which is released when the garlic is cut or crushed. Cooking usually destroys allicin, but an easy way round this is to chop or crush the garlic slightly, and leave it exposed to the air for ten minutes; this stabilises the allicin and helps to retains all it’s wonderful properties even when heated! The fresh lemon juice adds a deliciously tangy flavour, reducing the need for extra salt; and the organic crème fraîche brings a little extra protein, vitamin A, and calcium to the dish.
Beans and peas go really well as a side accompaniment to this dish. Sweet tender peas contain vitamin C, and broad beans are incredibly nutritious, containing folate, fibre, and protein. Lightly steamed alongside some baby new potatoes, all topped with with a handful of fresh mint and a drizzle of fragrant olive oil, or knob of organic butter, they make the perfect partner for the chicken.
One whole organic chicken
between 4–8 fresh garlic cloves (depending on your personal taste)
2 or 3 large unwaxed lemons
A large handful of fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
One tub of organic crème fraîche (You can use half/low fat)
Salt and pepper
Organic new potatoes (Jersey Royals work well)
Broad beans and peas, frozen is fine (serving is per person as a side accompaniment)
French or runner beans (serving is per person as a side accompaniment)
A handful of fresh mint
A knob of organic butter/ a drizzle of olive oil
Optional: Worcester sauce
Wellbeing Sisters top tip: We added a splash of Worcester sauce at the very end of cooking our lemon sauce for a real umami kick!
Pre-heat your oven to 180 °C (160 fan), or gas mark 5.
Make three small slits in each breast, and one in each leg of your chicken. Take the garlic cloves and a half of the tarragon and split between a few of the slits, pushing well inside.
Squeeze the juice of a whole lemon over the chicken, then insert the squeezed lemon into the chicken cavity along with the rest of the tarragon (reserve a few springs for garnishing). Pour the two tablespoons of olive oil over the chicken, then sprinkle a little salt and a big grind of black pepper over the chicken.
Roast the chicken as you would according to its size (about an hour and fifteen minutes for a medium-sized chicken). To check whether your chicken is done, the skin should be a golden brown colour, and the juices should run clear if you insert a sharp knife in between the leg and the breast.
Once cooked, set the chicken aside on a warm plate and cover loosely with some tin foil to retain the heat.
Your roasting pan should be full of the rich cooking juices. If there are any burnt bits of chicken or garlic, remove these then put the pan on the hob a low heat (note: you can always pour the roasting juices into a saucepan and use that if this isn’t possible). Take the tarragon from inside the chicken cavity and add it to the pan. Add the juice of another whole lemon and stir gently.
Take your resting chicken and pour all the juice out of the inside, and whatever juice is on the plate, into your pan. Put the chicken back to rest again, and give the sauce another stir.
Add your crème fraîche gradually, slowly stirring it through the juices, until you have an emulsified and creamy sauce. You may need to add the juice of another lemon here, it’s up to your own taste, I like it lemony! You can also add a small crushed garlic clove if you like it very garlicky, but beware not to overdo it, and allow the sauce to simmer for a few minutes more to ensure the garlic cooks.
Leave your sauce on a very low heat to keep it warm, and return to preparing your chicken. Remove the legs and wings from the body and slice the breasts. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just to roughly portion it up. Arrange the chicken pieces on your warm serving plate, and scatter the bits of tarragon and garlic cloves from the slits evenly over the chicken.
Check your sauce now for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to personal taste. Make sure the sauce is piping hot, and then pour it over your chicken through a sieve for a smooth finish.
Decorate the plate with any leftover lemon wedges and a sprig of fresh tarragon, and serve with steamed new potatoes and and a medley of peas, French beans, and broad beans all topped with butter or oil, and roughly torn tufts of fresh mint.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mel holds a BSc (Hons) in Nutritional Therapy, an MSc in Nutritional Medicine, and has been specialising in fertility and pregnancy nutrition for over 18 years. Her career includes time spent at the Zita West Fertility Clinic, The Healthy Holiday Company, and Dr Jane Benn & Associates. Mel set up Melanie Brown Nutrition 10 years ago and currently works with clients across the globe advising them on fertility-enhancing diet and lifestyle.