Summer roast chicken with watercress and spiced peaches
- 80g watercress
- 100g very soft butter
- 1 whole chicken, weighing about 1.5kg
- a few whole garlic cloves
- ½ lemon
For the spiced peaches
- 4 peaches
- 250g granulated sugar
- 50ml cider vinegar
- a few slices of root ginger
- a few cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
Make the spiced peaches 1 day (or up to 1 week) ahead, cool and chill submerged in the poaching syrup. You can stuff the chicken a few hours ahead too. Cover and chill but bring the chicken to room temperature before roasting.
- Put the peaches in a large bowl, cover with boiling water; leave them for 30 seconds. Drain and carefully peel off the skins. Quarter the peaches and remove the stones.
- In a wide shallow pan, heat 250ml water with the sugar, vinegar and spices over a low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the peach quarters; simmer, partially covered, in the syrup for 8-10 minutes or until just tender, leave to cool in the liquid.
Tip If you want to make a larger batch of the spiced peaches to serve with cold meats and cheese, double the quantities and transfer the peaches and syrup, while hot, to a sterilised Kilner jar; seal and leave to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan 170°C, gas 5. Chop half the watercress; mix it with the butter in a small bowl and season. Put the chicken into a roasting tin; loosen the skin that covers the breasts and push the watercress butter under the skin; season the chicken. Put the garlic cloves and lemon into the cavity of the chicken. Roast for 1 hour 20 minutes or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the leg is pierced with a knife. Leave the chicken to rest for 10 minutes.
- Carve the chicken; arrange on a platter with the rest of the watercress tossed with some of the spiced peaches and syrup; drizzle with the roasting juices. Serve the rest of the peaches separately.
This is a delicious Sunday lunch for a summer's day, with mayo and buttered new potatoes.