March may not be the most prolific month for seasonal produce, but it does have a couple of stand out delicacies. One of these is purple sprouting broccoli, the king of the brassicas. Far superior to calabrese it’s tender stems, purple flowers and bright leaves are delicate and nutritious with an earthy mineral flavour. Another seasonal treat is wild garlic, which flowers in dark damp woods, filling the cold air with an unmistakable garlic like scent.
Wild garlic is a relative of chives and has a gentle garlicy flavour that is delicious in soups and sauces. It adds a wonderful earthy depth to a rich buttery hollandaise, making it the perfect accompaniment for a simple roast chicken. Before roasting a chicken remove it from the fridge and allow it come to room temperature. This will ensure the chicken cooks gently and evenly, keeping the meat tender and moist.
Hollandaise has a reputation for being hard to make but if you follow the rules it’s pretty straightforward. The egg yolks need to be lightly cooked so place a heatproof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water and whisk vigorously until you have a golden airy foam. Now slowly add the melted butter, whisking constantly to maintain the rich emulsion.
Roast Spring Chicken, Purple Broccoli, Wild Garlic Hollandaise
2 spring chickens
2 lemon wedges, 2 garlic cloves, 2 bay leaf, 2 sprig thyme
200g purple sprouting broccoli
Handful wild garlic leaves
300g unsalted butter
1 shallot – chopped
100ml white wine vinegar
3 egg yolks
- Remove the chicken from the fridge to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
- Season the cavities of the spring chickens with salt & pepper then stuff each bird with a wedge of lemon, a garlic clove, bay leaf & a sprig of thyme. Smother the chicken skin with 50g of the butter & season generously.
- Roast on its side for 30 – 35 minutes, turning onto the other side half way through the cooking time.
- For the hollandaise bring the vinegar to the boil with the shallots & reduce by half. Pass through a sieve.
- Melt 250 grams of butter.
- Whisk the egg yolks & 2 tablespoons of the vinegar reduction over simmering water until the whisk leaves ribbons on the surface. Add the butter in a slow, thin stream whisking constantly. Add a drop of warm water if it looks too thick. Flavour to taste with lemon juice, chopped garlic leaf & salt.
- Carve the chicken & serve with the pan juices, hollandaise & broccoli.