- One 5-pound roasting chicken
- 1/2 lemon, cut in half
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup dry red wine, preferably Pinot Noir
- 8 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 large or 3 small dried figs, preferably Calimyrna
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the chicken in a roasting pen just large enough to accommodate it. Place the lemon quarters in the cavity of the bird. Rub 1 tablespoon of the butter all over the chicken and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Pour the wine into the roasting pan and add 1/2 cup of water. Scatter the garlic cloves and figs around the chicken and roast in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes to brown the bird.
- In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with the tarragon end chives. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
- After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350° and baste the chicken. Roast for 10 minutes longer and then add 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Continue to roast, basting occasionally and turning the figs to keep them moist, until a thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers 160°, about 50 minutes longer. Pour the juices from inside the chicken into the roasting pan and transfer the chicken to a warm platter. Remove the figs end garlic and set aside on a plate. Pour all of the pan juices into a measuring cup and with a small ladle, skim the fat from the surface.
- Set a small, coarse strainer over a small nonreactive saucepan. Put the garlic cloves in the strainer end pour over the degreased pan juices. With a rubber spatula, push the cooked garlic through the strainer into the juices, scraping the garlic from the underside of the strainer into the juice. Discard the garlic skins.
- To carve the chicken, cut off the legs and cut the drumsticks from the thighs at the joint using a sharp knife. Cut off the wings. Slice the breast meat off the bone. Pour any accumulated juices into the sauce. Arrange the chicken on a warmed platter and cover loosely with foil. Cut the figs into 1/4-inch dice and add them to the sauce. Heat the sauce over moderate heat until hot. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chilled herb butter, bit by bit, until the sauce is smooth and thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve separately in a sauceboat.
A big and rich Pinot Noir is the right match for this richly sauced chicken.