Ready-in: 1 hour 40 minutes (plus up to 12 hours-optional)
Prep: 20-35 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Chicken Brine (optional)
4 litres water
½ cup salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 size 14 free-range chicken
50cm piece of butcher’s twine or string
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Leek, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Stuffing
100g panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon milk
75g butter, melted
1 leek, thinly sliced
50g chopped walnuts
100g blue cheese, crumbled
½ tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
¼ teaspoon salt
For Brine (optional)
1. Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pat chicken dry and place in a large bowl (large enough to cover chicken completely in brine).
2. Pour cooled brine over chicken to cover, cover with cling film and place in fridge to soak for a minimum of 4 hours, ideally 12.
3. Remove chicken from brine and drain well. Shake to remove any excess peppercorns from cavity.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Bring a full kettle to the boil. Set aside a roasting dish.
1. Place breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Add milk, egg and melted butter (reserving 2 tablespoons butter), mix to combine. Heat reserved melted butter in a large fry-pan on low-medium heat. Cook leek and walnuts for 7–9 minutes, until leek is softened and walnuts toasted.
2. Add leek to breadcrumb mix, along with remaining stuffing ingredients. Mix together with clean hands until combined and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Set aside until required.
3. Pat chicken dry and place in sink or large bowl. Pour over a full kettle of boiling water to completely cover chicken skin (this will help to make crispy skin).
4. Drain all water from chicken and pat dry well. Place on a large board and fold and tuck wing tips under body. Stuff chicken with stuffing, placing about ¼ cup into cavity at a time, compacting it with hands, until cavity is full. Roll remaining stuffing into golf-ball sized balls and set aside. Cross chicken legs over and tie together with twine.
5. Transfer chicken, breast-side-up, to roasting dish, brush with olive oil, squeeze over lemon juice and sprinkle over zest. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes at 200°C then remove and arrange extra stuffing balls around the chicken. Reduce oven to 190°C and roast for 35-45 minutes, until cooked through (insert tip of knife into leg, juices should run clear, not red). Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes.
To serve, transfer chicken and stuffing to a large platter. Serve with chicken jus (optional).