Chicken in Salt with Fennel, Thyme and Lemon

Total Time:
2 hr 35 min
Prep:
20 min
Inactive:
15 min
Cook:
2 hr

Yield:
4 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • 7 pounds (3 kilograms) coarse rock salt
  • 8 heaped teaspoons fennel seeds, cracked
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • 1 (4 1/2 pound) (2 kilogram) organic chicken
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, ripped
  • 8 cloves garlic, skins left on, squashed
Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Put all the salt into a bowl with the fennel seeds, eggs, lemon juice (keep the skins), peppercorns, and a wine glass of water, and mix together.

Bash up the thyme in a pestle and mortar and add a couple of good lugs of olive oil. Scrunch it up and rub this flavored oil all over your chicken, finally pushing any excess inside the cavity along with your parsley, garlic, and squeezed lemon halves. The idea here is to tightly pack the cavity so it bulges and no salt can get in.

Get 4 long pieces of aluminum foil and put them on top of each other to make a large square sheet. Lay on 1/3 of the salt, making it around 3/4-inch (2 centimeters) thick. Put your chicken on top, then pack the rest of the salt around it. Because the salt is slightly wet it should stick to the chicken; make sure that the chicken's skin hasn't been pierced. Carefully fold up the sides of the foil and scrunch it at the top. You can rip off excess foil; basically, the foil is there to hold the salt together until it hardens.

Place the chicken in the preheated oven and cook for 2 hours, then remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Take it to the table with 1 or 2 really nice salads, some bread, and a bottle of white. Rip open the foil and crack the salt crust. It will fall apart easily and reveal the fantastic-smelling chicken. Pull the skin away and tear the meat from the thighs and the breast - absolutely pukka. This is gorgeous served with horseradish mixed with creme fraiche or with some homemade basil mayonnaise.

(c)Jamie Oliver 2002


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