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Thanksgiving Roast Chicken or Turkey with Crème Fraîche Lemon Butter & Herb Pan Sauce

This year it looks like my Thanksgiving plans have fallen through. We are a large household, so my table will be full either way. I am blessed to be surrounded by my beautiful children and granddaughter. Nevertheless, Thanksgiving this year will no doubt be on a smaller scale. I have decided to keep it simple. Since we will have no extended family and friends over, I will be making a much smaller turkey. My turkey is just over 4 kilos, so using my chicken recipe was fitting . No fuss, no brine, just delicious moist turkey fast and easy. It is for us here in the UK, very much a work day, so having a Thanksgiving feast on a work and school day, has always been my strong suit, LOL.

I love my lemon and tarragon chicken. I always have crème fraîche on hand. It is brilliant in many dishes and truly a chef's dream ingredient. It makes everything you stir it into, creamy and luxurious. It also never curdles. This recipe will produce a very moist bird. I do prepare it the day before, as the lactic acid will also tenderise the meat. If you do not have time, do not worry, it is still delicious done at the moment. I spread it underneath the skin, in the cavity and then all over. I stuff the cavity with garlic bulbs, lemon, thyme and more tarragon, before trussing it closed. This ensures even roasting with perfectly cooked, not dry, meat throughout. It is then placed in the oven. Once roasted I rest it upside down and tent it with foil for about 30 minutes. This is plenty of time to put the finishing touches on my sauce. I hope you try this deliciously different chicken recipe. It will not disappoint. Please note this recipe can also be used for a small turkey weighing 3.800- 4.100 kilos approx. Just double the marinade/rub and pan sauce ingredients and up the cooking time to approximately 2 1/2 hours-3 hours.

Happy Thanksgiving XOXO

Roast Chicken with Crème Fraîche Lemon Butter and Herb Pan Sauce

Serves 4

90 minutes (adjust time for turkey according to my comments above)

Special equipment needed, kitchen twine to truss and aluminum foil to tent chicken/turkey after roasting


For the roast chicken

1 Large Free-range chicken approx. 1.600-2.000 kilos

2 Leeks, cleaned and roughly chopped

2 Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 Onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 Garlic bulb, whole and top half cut off to expose cloves

1 Bunch fresh thyme (30 g.)

1 Bunch fresh Italian flat leaf parsley (30 g.)

1 Sprig fresh rosemary

50 ml. Extra virgin olive oil

60 g. Salted butter

100 ml. Rich chicken stock, store bought or homemade

The lemon halves reserved from marinade below

For the rub and marinade (For best results, do this one day ahead, or just before roasting)

200 ml. Crème fraîche, full fat , may I suggest M&S Creme Fraiche

Rich and indulgent produced in the heart of Normandy and made in France with French milk)

Simply my favourite. Note: you cannot substitute with light version, it will curdle.

1 Large unwaxed lemon, juice and zest. Lemon halves reserved to stuff cavity

2 tsp. Dijon mustard, such as Maille

1 tsp. Sweet smoked paprika

1 tsp. Garlic powder

1 tsp. Celery salt, trust me, it is the spice you never knew you needed in your life

1/2 tsp. Ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. Ground ginger

1 tsp. Fine sea salt

1 tbsp. Dried tarragon

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional)

50 ml. Extra virgin olive oil

100 ml. Rich chicken stock, store bought or homemade

In a roasting pan or oven proof dish, add carrots, leeks and onions.

Mix all ingredients for rub and marinade. Using your fingers, very gently separate skin from chicken flesh, on breasts, legs and thighs, by slowly pushing between them and loosening skin. Be very careful as to not tear or pierce the skin. Take hand fulls of the crème fraîche mixture and place between the skin and flesh. Massage the remaining crème fraîche mixture all over the chicken. Stuff cavity with garlic, fresh herbs, garlic bulb, and seal entrance with lemon halves. Using kitchen twine, truss chicken. Wrap twine around breast and under wings, bring twine up and tie up legs, knot and cut off excess twine. There are loads of how to videos, on Youtube, for's easy! Place chicken atop vegetables, breast side down, trust me! Cover with cling film/ plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to roast, 1 hour and up to overnight.

When ready to roast, uncover and discard cling film.

Let chicken come to room temperature, uncovered for 30 minutes. Use this time to preheat your oven to 180°C /356°F fan assisted. (Add 10° more if you do not have a fan assisted oven)

Add 100 ml. chicken stock to bottom of roasting pan.

Place in the lower 1/3 of the oven and roast, uncovered, for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, carefully turn bird over, breast side up, and pour extra virgin olive oil, and butter, all over breast, legs and thighs. (Don't worry if butter just sits atop the chicken, it will melt and drizzle down as it goes back in the oven) Continue roasting for another 45-50 minutes, or until internal temperature of thickest part of the thigh , but not touching the bone, registers, 75° C/ 165° F.

Meanwhile, take a foot length of aluminum foil and roll it lengthwise to make a snake like shape. Turn it so ends meet to make a ring, like photo. Mine was about 5 inches in diameter, you want it to be smaller than the bird. Place it in a deep plate, to catch any drippings, and reserve.

Cut another piece of foil big enough to wrap, and loosely tent, entire chicken. Reserve.

Using a clean tea towel, easier than using forks or wooden spoons, pick up chicken from roasting pan and place onto aluminum ring, so that the legs face up and neck is resting in centre of ring. Wrap entire bird loosely with foil and set aside to rest 20-30 minutes, in a warm place. Putting the chicken to rest like this makes all the juices return to the breast while it is resting, resulting in a very moist bird.

Reserve pan drippings and proceed below.

For the Herb Pan Sauce

Reserved pan juices passed through a sieve, solids discarded except garlic bulb

150 g. Salted butter, cold and cut into 1 inch cubes

150 ml. Dry white wine, you can use red, but sauce will be darker and richer.

1 Sprig of fresh rosemary (if you prefer fresh tarragon, swap it for rosemary here)

Garlic bulb from inside chicken cavity, cloves squeezed out and rest of skin discarded

400 ml. Rich chicken stock, store bought or homemade

Salt and pepper to taste

While chicken is resting

Sieve pan juices, leftover from roasting chicken, into a medium saucepan.

To it add, on a medium/high heat, 400 ml. chicken stock, white wine and sprig of rosemary.

Let reduce by half, 5-8 minutes. Remove garlic solids and sprigs of herbs, if you wish before proceeding. I do not, as we all love the chunks of roasted garlic. Add butter cubes and whisk until melted and glossy. Keep warm, but do not boil.

Serve over chicken after carving.

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