Lentils by themselves are bland and boring, but flavoured like this you’ll love them. You need to use Puy lentils (also known as French green lentils) for this dish as they hold their shape, whereas other lentils disintegrate upon cooking and are best left for stews, soups and curries. This method of making a flavoured butter and pushing it underneath the skin of the chicken helps keep it moist and delicious, distributing herby flavour throughout.
|30 g||Butter, softened|
|2 cloves||Garlic, minced|
|3 Tbsp||Chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon, thyme, marjoram or oregano, plus extra for stuffing chicken cavity (Main)|
|1 medium||Whole chicken, free-range (Main)|
|1 ½ cups||Puy lentils, or French green lentils (Main)|
|2 Tbsp||Olive oil|
|3 cloves||Garlic, chopped|
|2 large||Shallots, chopped|
|1 tsp||Coriander, chopped|
|1 tsp||Cumin seeds, crushed|
|3 Tbsp||Chopped fresh herbs, use thyme, rosemary, marjoram or oregano|
|1||Lemon, freshly juiced|
|3 Tbsp||Sherry, or rice vinegar|
|1 ½ tsp||Sugar|
|1 ½ tsp||Chicken stock, powder|
|½ ||Red onions, finely chopped|
|1 cup||Pitted green olives, chopped|
|1 handful||Flat leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped|
- Heat oven to 180C.
- Mix soft butter, garlic, salt and herbs together well to form a paste. Starting at the neck of the chicken, slip your fingers under the skin and gently separate the skin from the breast meat on both sides, being careful not to tear the skin. Push the flavoured butter under the skin and distribute it around as evenly as you can. Cut lemon in half and stuff inside the chicken's cavity, along with more herbs. Roast the chicken on a rack inside a roasting dish for 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through. Drain off the juices from the chicken and reserve.
- Cook Puy lentils while the chicken is roasting. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add lentils and simmer for 20 minutes until tender but still ever so slightly firm to the bite. Drain through a sieve.
- Heat oil in a large fry-pan and add garlic, shallots, coriander, cumin and herbs. Fry until garlic and shallots are soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add cooked puy lentils, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, chicken stock powder and a few tablespoons of reserved chicken resting juices. Toss everything together to warm through. Toss warmed lentils with red onion, tomatoes, olives and parsley just before serving.
- Cut chicken into pieces and serve with warm lentils and a side salad or roast vegetables. Alternatively, you can shred the chicken meat and toss it through the lentils.
Chef's tip: Lentils
- Only add salt (in this case chicken stock powder) after lentils are cooked, as salt added to the water while they are cooking toughens the skins of the lentils.
- These lentils are just as delicious on their own as a vegetarian dish (or with fried haloumi) and make a delicious lunch to take to work.