Pot-roasted Chicken with Black Olives

3:10 pm on 26 July 2013

This is an easy way to cook a chicken. After initial browning – which develops flavour, eye-appeal and speeds up the cooking – the chicken looks after itself and emerges fragrant and fork-tender (allow about 15 minutes for browning chicken). If you don’t go for olives, which I think add a lovely fruity note to tie in nicely with the orange zest, simply leave them out.

(Serves 6)


  • 1 x Size 14 free-range corn-fed chicken
  • several sprigs rosemary
  • pared rind of 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head of garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
  • 12 black kalamata olives
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley to finish
  • Arrowroot or crème fraiche for thickening juices (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley to finish


1) Rinse the chicken inside and out, and remove any visible fat. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Put a sprig of rosemary and a strip or two of orange peel in the cavity. Tie the legs and parson’s nose together with string to close cavity and loop string around the chicken and tie it in a bow for easy removal. Choose a casserole in which the chicken will fit snugly. Heat it over a low to medium heat, then add the butter. Turn the heat to low, and add the chicken with the breast facing down to start. Keep the heat at a nice little sizzle without letting it get so hot that the butter burns. Brown the chicken all over (allow about 15 minutes), including the sides. Season with salt and pepper.

2) Turn the chicken breast uppermost. Add garlic, black olives, fennel seeds and remaining rosemary and orange peel to casserole and let garlic brown a little. Pour the white wine around the sides of the chicken, let most of it evaporate, then pour around the stock. Bring to the boil, then immediately turn heat down to very low and cover with a lid. Cook for about 80 or 90 minutes, or until it is so tender that the thigh parts easily from the cavity and the meat is nearly falling off the bone. Set the heat so that the chicken is cooking at a gentle bubblebut is not boiling, or it will toughen.

3) Transfer the chicken, olives and orange rind and cloves of garlic to a plate and cover loosely with tin foil. Pour juices into a fat-separating jug if you have one, and return the fat-free juices to the casserole, or scoop off the fat from the juices with a large spoon. If there’s very little juice remaining, add a little stock. Gently bubble up juices, adding any juice that come out of the chicken as it rests, then turn off the heat. If liked, more stock can be added and the juices can be thickened with a little arrowroot mixed with water. Alternatively, swirl in a little creme fraiche.

4) Carve chicken into joints, discarding skin if wished, and arrange on a large heated platter with olives and garlic. Spoon over juices and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.


From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

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