In our new focus to cut the carbon footprint of our food let’s ditch the delivery of the bucket of chicken drumsticks and roast a free-range chicken at home. You might be surprised at the price comparison.

This serves a whole family with plenty of leftovers and even a carcass to make stock.


1 – 1.5 kilo free-range chicken

1 bulb fennel

1 unwaxed lemon, zested and chopped

250g fresh Italian fennel sausages or Spanish chorizo

extra virgin olive oil or Scottish rape seed oil

Sea salt and black pepper

3-4 garlic cloves, squashed but unpeeled

2 sprigs rosemary

1 red onion, quartered with skin on.

150ml dry white wine

5-6 roasting potatoes, (King Edward or Maris piper), peeled and cut into quarters


Remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before cooking.

Calculate 18 minutes cooking time per 500g, plus an extra 15 minutes or so to crisp the skin.

Pre-heat oven 220C / Gas 7

Prepare the stuffing.

Rinse and trim the fennel bulbs, removing any course outer layers, keeping aside with all the stalks and fronds.

Chop into thin slices and place in a bowl.

Add the lemon zest and chopped skin and pulp.

Add the sausages sliced into 2–3cm pieces.

Add the chopped fennel fronds and mix with 2 tablespoons oil.

Season well.

Choose a large baking tray with a rim.

Don’t wash the chicken but trim any excess fat and the triangular stub from the open end of the chicken.

Rub the chicken all over with oil and season well inside and out.

Add the stuffing placing the whole garlic cloves and the sprigs of rosemary inside as you go.

Fold the end flap of the chicken over the end to keep the stuffing inside.

Scatter the outer pieces of fennel and the chopped onion onto the baking tray.

Lay the chicken on the bed of fennel and onions and place on the bottom shelf of the oven.

Put the potatoes into a pan with cold water and bring to the boil.

Drain and put back into the pot.

With the lid on shake them a bit to roughen the edges.

After 25 minutes, lower the oven to gas 180c/ Gas 5 and continue roasting.

After an hour, remove the chicken and place the potatoes around the bird.

Pour over the white wine.

The chicken is cooked when the skin is crips and the juices run clear.

There should be no pink blood under the leg.

Set aside to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes before serving.

No fighting over the sausages!

Mary Contini OBE is a writer and Director of Valvona & Crolla ltd. We are happy to welcome you in our CaffèBar and shop again, open all day. Book and order online:

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