This mix uses equal amounts of balsamic and sugar, so the sweet tart taste balances beautifully in the crisp, caramelized crust that forms on the skin. Because there is so much balsamic, the quality is really important here. Use the good stuff. Fresh rosemary, a whopping great big bunch, is also key because you want that blast of flavour from the essential oils in the fresh leaves.
250g soft dark brown sugar
250ml best-quality balsamic vinegar
a really big bunch of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped, including stalks, plus a few extra sprigs
2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon garlic granules
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 red onions, thickly sliced – peel can stay
1 large free-range chicken, about 1.3kg
Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3.
With a blender or a stick blender, combine all the ingredients except the onions, chicken and rosemary sprigs. Whizz until blended; the mixture does not have to be smooth.
In an ovenproof casserole large enough to hold the chicken comfortably, arrange the onion slices. Set the chicken on top. Pour over the balsamic mixture and spread around with your hands, massaging it into the chicken all over, then add the rosemary sprigs.
Cover with a lid, transfer to the oven and roast for 2 hours, no turning required. Exceptionally large chickens may take a bit longer, but this should usually be adequate time to ensure the bird is fully cooked . When you pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer, the juices should run clear.
Recipe taken from Chriskitch: Big Flavours from a Small Kitchen by Chris Honor and Laura Washburn Hutton, available here