Life & Style

Nature Boy

Professional chef Julius Roberts abandoned his frantic London life to embrace sustainable living on his own Dorset small-holding. From growing his own food to rearing livestock, Roberts’ country escape lead to a TV series and now his first book, with stories and recipes (including this delicious roast chicken dish) inspired by life on the farm.
Photography by Elena Heatherwick
Extracted from The Farm Table by Julius Roberts
Extracted from The Farm Table by Julius Roberts

Epic Tarragon Roast Chicken

Serves 5


1 organic chicken

3 tbsp olive oil

1 whole head of garlic

250ml quality double cream

20g bunch of fresh tarragon, stalks removed, roughly chopped

1 large heaped tbsp Dijon mustard

1 glass of dry white wine

Cooking Instructions

Preheat your oven to 220°C fan and start by spatchcocking the chicken. To do this, turn it over and cut along one side of the spine from the tail to the neck. Then turn it over, open out the two sides and press down hard to flatten it. Your butcher will gladly do this for you. Lay the chicken in a large, high-sided roasting tray, season generously with salt on both sides and leave for an hour at room temperature so it loses the chill of the fridge.

When ready, generously drizzle the skin with olive oil and work it into all the nooks and crannies. Smash the head of garlic and hide the cloves underneath the chicken, then roast in the oven for 20–30 minutes, until the skin begins to turn golden brown.

Meanwhile, mix the cream, tarragon and mustard in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper. After 20-30 minutes, turn the oven down to 140°C fan, take out the chicken and pour a generous glass of white wine into the tray. Then pour the tarragon cream all over the chicken and place back in the oven for 30-40 minutes until it’s ready. To judge when it’s cooked, I check the deepest part of the thigh with a temperature probe, looking for 65-70°C. If you don’t have one, prod this point with a skewer and ensure the juices run clear. At this point, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes, covered loosely with a bit of foil.

Carve straight into the tray and serve as you like, with lots of the sauce, garlic and a zingy green salad.