Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hr 50 minutes
A classic roast chicken is made extra special with these Italian stuffing balls
• 1 whole chicken (about 1.5kg)
• 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
For the stuffing balls
• 140g fresh bread (about 3-4 slices)
• handful parsley , chopped
• 140g ricotta
• 100g Parmesan , freshly grated
• handful thyme , chopped
• handful basil , chopped
• 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
• 2 eggs
• 12 thin slices pancetta or streaky bacon
1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Season the chicken inside and out, then place in a large roasting dish. Rub all over with the oil. Place in oven, then cook for 1 hr 30 minutes, spooning oil and juices over the bird a few times during cooking.
2. Meanwhile, make the stuffing. Whiz the bread and parsley in a food processor or grate the bread on the biggest holes of a grater. Mix with the rest of the stuffing ingredients, apart from the pancetta or bacon, in a large bowl. Use your hands to shape into 12 balls, and then wrap a slice of pancetta or bacon around each.
3. Test if the chicken is done by inserting a skewer into the thigh meat; when the juices run clear, remove from the roasting dish.
Place on a serving plate and loosely cover with foil. While the chicken is resting, pour away any excess fat from the dish and tip in the stuffing balls. Cook for 20 minutes until crisp and golden. Serve alongside the chicken.