Bärlauch Roasted Chicken
Adapted from The River Cottage Meat Book
1 3-4 lb chicken
7 T. butter, room temperature
1 small bunch wild garlic (bärlauch), finely chopped
~ 1 T. finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1/2 c. chicken stock, wine, vegetable stock, or water
Preheat the oven to 425.
In a medium bowel, mix the butter, wild garlic, and parsley until well combined. Add a healthy dash of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.
Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Remove any trusses from the chicken, gently pull the legs away from the body a bit, and enlarge the cavity so that hot air will be able to circulate all around and into the chicken. Rub the chicken all over outside and in with the herb butter.
Place the chicken in the middle of the hot oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350. Baste the chicken with the juices that have run off. Pour the stock, wine, or water into the bottom of the roasting pan (not over the chicken). Roast for an additional 35-40 minutes, until the juices from the thigh area run clear.
Turn off the oven, and open the oven door a bit. Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and carve directly in the pan, letting the pieces fall into the juices. Serve, and enjoy!
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Back in the US, nettles are my favorite wild food. Here in Germany, it’s bärlauch, also known as wild garlic or bear garlic.
On Sunday Steven and I rented a car and went for a hike near the small town of Coppenbrügge, which is nestled at the end of a 13 mile long tree-covered ridge. The first mile was pretty grueling — it was steep! — but once we reached the top of the ridge, the terrain was gentle. The views of the Niedersachsen countryside were pretty spectacular; there are many rapeseed farms around here, and currently the fields are full of glorious, bright yellow blooms.
Besides the view, the other remarkable part of the hike was the wild garlic — for miles and miles the forest floor was thickly covered in it! At first I wasn’t sure if this green plant with broad leaves was the bärlauch I’ve heard so much about, but after a while, the smell made things pretty clear — wild garlic has a strong smell, but it’s sweeter and less pungent than regular garlic. It’s strong, but not overt. My guess is you will know it when you smell it.
When we got home, it seemed entirely appropriate to make a bärlauch roasted chicken for dinner. Simple and hearty, it was the perfect post-hike meal. I served it alongside spicy butter-fried zucchini, crusty bread, and a glass of dry white wine.
Bärlauch is plentiful these days, but it’s new to me and I don’t really know that many things to do with it. if you have ideas or have cooked with it before, I’d love to hear about it!