From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
1.5kg (3lb) whole chicken
1 fresh thyme sprig
75g (3oz) butter, softened
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 small carrots, peeled
2 red onions, peeled and halved
2 celery sticks, chopped in half
1 leek, chopped in half
1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves (but not peeled)
3 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp plain flour
120ml (4fl oz) white wine
300ml (½ pint) chicken stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crispy roast potatoes, to serve
Buttered peas, to serve
For the Sausage Stuffing Roll:
25g (1oz) butter, extra for greasing
1 onion, finely chopped
100g (4oz) sausage meat
100g (4oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tblsp chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Take the chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before it goes into the oven. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F/gas mark 8).
Finely grate the rind from the lemon and place the rind in a bowl, reserving the lemon. Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks (reserve the stalks) and add to the lemon rind. Mix in the butter and the garlic and then season to taste.
Loosen the skin from the chicken breasts, starting at the cavity end and working your hand underneath to release it. Spread the butter evenly under the skin and lay the skin back down on top. Slash the chicken legs several times with a sharp knife (this is to help ensure crispy skin).
Place the carrots in a roasting tin with the red onions, celery, leek and garlic, tossing to coat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sit the chicken on top of the pile of vegetables and drizzle all over with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, then season well, rubbing it all over and right into the slashes.
Cut the reserved lemon in half and put it inside the chicken's cavity with the reserved thyme stalks. Place the chicken in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Roast the chicken for 1 hour 20 minutes, basting the chicken halfway through cooking.
Meanwhile, to make the sausage stuffing roll, melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion until softened. Leave to cool, then mix with the sausage meat, breadcrumbs and herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Place on a heavily buttered double sheet of tin foil and roll up into a thick sausage shape about 2.5cm (1in) thick and 20cm (8in) long, twisting the ends to secure. Place in a roasting tin and cook above the chicken for 25-30 minutes, until the sausage meat is cooked through, turning it a couple of times to ensure it cooks evenly.
When the chicken is cooked, transfer the chicken to a board and put the carrots and red onions on a warmed plate. Cover each with tin foil and rest for 15 minutes while you make the gravy.
Using a large spoon, carefully remove most of the fat from the tin and then place the tin directly on the heat. Stir in the flour and then holding the tin steady, mash up the remaining vegetables as much as possible with a potato masher.
Pour in the wine and allow it to bubble down, stirring continuously to blend the flour in. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until slightly reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally. Take a large jug and set a sieve into it, then pour in the gravy mixture, using a ladle to push all of the liquid and some of the vegetables through with the back of the spoon. Stir in the juices from the resting chicken and season to taste. Transfer to a warmed gravy boat.
To serve, carve the chicken into slices and arrange on warmed serving plates with the reserved carrots and red onion halves. Unwrap the sausage stuffing roll and cut into slices, then add to the plates with the roast potatoes and buttered peas. Hand around the gravy boat separately.