roast chicken with braised baby leeks, peas & fennel

Gooood very early morning, I am quickly getting this sorted before heading to the airport for a flight to Fiji, wooo hoooooo – bring it on, I can’t wait! I can’t believe how quickly the last six months have flown by, and now Christmas is fast approaching – I swear time goes faster every year. I must say I am hanging out for this trip – it is for work (and of course a blog post), but also for the opportunity to take a few moments just to sit quietly (fingers crossed) in the warm air, swim in the sea and just literally escape for a few days. I know when I get back, this is exactly the kind of meal I will be looking forward to – a classic herby stuffed roast chook with sweet braised baby leeks with herbs and fennel – a perfect welcome home dinner πŸ™‚

When I was approached by New World to do a l’il collaboration as part of their 14th annual New World Wine Awards I was hardly going to say no – are you kidding, I may not be an expert but it would be fair to say that I do love wine! So – every year 13 wine judges blind taste over 1,300 wines sold for under $25 and award gold medals to the very best. In a secret squirrel fashion I was sent a list of the top 50 to choose from – three wines that I would normally happily buy, and to pick one which I would then create a recipe to match. I selected the Giesen Riesling 2015, Clearview Estate Beachhead Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2015 and Sandalford Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – and then realised I had made my decision very difficult indeed, given they are three such different wines. I really struggled because I seriously loved all three (and I still want to make some mini crab cake bites to go with that riesling, it is utterly delicious) – but in the end I decided to go with the chardonnay. These days (observationally) I would say that chardonnay is just starting to gain a little popularity again after years of being overshadowed by sauvignon blanc. The Clearview one I selected (which was also the category champion) is described as having ‘ripe, sweet stone fruit and warm tropical fruits, integrated oak and a long creamy textured palate’ – and I can confirm is jolly fine indeed. Anyhoo – getting to the point – I decided to match it with a recipe that suits late spring in New Zealand, a crispy skinned roast chicken packed with aromatic herbs served with sweet, braised baby leeks, fennel and peas. The combination was perfect – totally luscious…and easy!

In exciting news I also have a fab and super easy COMPETITION for you! To be in to WIN a $150 New World Voucher (think of all the loverly ingredients you could buy for your pre Christmas entertaining!) all you need to do is comment in the β€˜post a comment’ section below, telling me your favourite recipe from From the Kitchen. The lucky winner will be drawn on November 19th, so don’t forget to check back in here (or at my Facebook page) to see if you’ve won!

Preheat the oven to 200˚C, pat the chicken dry and put it in a roasting dish. Pop the onion, garlic, lemon and herbs inside the main cavity, and use a little cooking twine to tie the legs together as pictured. Use the skewer to secure the opening so that your aromatic goodies don’t escape. Rub the chicken all over with herb butter and roast for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the thigh juices run clear when tested. Baste with cooking juices 2-3 times during roasting. Rest for 10 minutes before serving with sweet braised baby vegetables. I also served mine with a kumara and potato gratin as it was a rainy night, but in finer weather some small boiled new potatoes with a little sea salt, ground pepper and butter would also be perfect!

1 size 16 chicken (I used free-range, corn fed)
1 small onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
a sprig of thyme
1 small lemon, quartered
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig sage
1 skewerHerb butter:
70g soft butter
1/4 cup mixed herbs (I used more of the ones I used to stuff the chicken)
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whiz all together and use to smear liberally all over chicken. This butter is also delicious on steak, lamb and even fish!

Braised Baby Vegetables: Leek, Fennel and Peas
(If using large leeks and fennel, slice the leeks once trimmed, and halve the fennel and remove any tough core)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 baby fennel, trimmed (reserve 1-2 tablespoons of fronds for garnish)
12 baby leeks, trimmed and cleaned
1/4 -1/2 cupΒ Clearview Beachead Hawkes Bay Chardonay 20145
finely grated zest of 1 lemon (reserve a little for garnish)
1 clove garlic crushed
1 teaspoon caster sugar
2 tablespoons cream

1 1/2 cups baby peas

Heat oil and butter in a large frying pan with a lid. Cook the fennel and leeks for 2 minutes then add the wine, zest, garlic and sugar. Cover and cook over a gentle/medium heat for 15 minutes – check every 5 minutes and if drying out add a splash more wine. Remove the lid and add the cream and peas. Cook a further 5 minutes then remove from the heat and serve immediately sprinkled with reserved fennel fronds and a little extra lemon zest.

Serves 6


  1. Hi Sarah
    It is nigh on impossible to select just one favourite recipe from your blog but the one my husband regularly asks for is your Smoked chicken pasta salad with romesco sauce.
    Hope you get a chance to relax a little in Fiji!

  2. Our family fave would have to be the Swedish meatballs, but I'm super keen to give this Roast Chicken recipe a blast for Christmas Day!! Yummy

  3. I love all your recipes (seriously, I have never not wanted to try one you post!!) however your pizza with lentils, salmon and pea puree is to die for. The combination is unexpected and takes pizza to a new place!

  4. My favourite so far is Chickpea & Sweet Potato Fritters with Cumin Spiked Caramelised Onion & Garlic Yoghurt – so many more to try!

  5. My favourite is the Mulligatawny Soup with home made yoghurt flatbreads all those blended spices indian and english just what i love.

  6. I love your recipe for Carrot, Zucchini and Corn fritters with avocado, yoghurt and dukkah πŸ™‚ It is both delicious and wholesome, and it's a great vegetarian dish. I'll try this latest recipe soon to see if it's my new favourite! <3

  7. Hi Sarah, I love all your food, it is so hard to choose. I can't wait to try your double baked cheese soufflΓ©. Thank you for inspiring us and can't wait for your cookbook!

  8. I love the idea of Banana Maple Daty Walnut Muffins with Maple Butter for breakfast. Might try this for the weekend. Yum!

  9. Hi Sarah,
    I have made your double baked cauliflower souffle so many times now and each time it has been a highlight of the party. We love it.

  10. The lemon cheesecake tart! I've made it three times for dinners I've hosted and it always gets an amazing response. I act humble but secretly I know it deserves the praise haha.

  11. Because I'm a bit of an avid forager I adore your Creamy Mushrooms with Sherry, Garlic & Thyme on Soft Polenta… Walking along the Taylor River Floodway here in Marlborough, I often find giant puffballs which replace traditional mushrooms, and I can usually find some wild garlic too. It's a lovely recipe for anytime of day, and always goes down a treat. PS, Wild fennel grows everywhere here at the moment, so will give the Braised Baby Leeks, Peas & Fennel a go at the weekend with the gorgeous roast chook!

  12. I am a big fan of your Indian Spiced Mango Chicken Salad, but the Romesco Pasta Salad is close behind! I love so many of your recipes, I know everyone I try will be perfect. =)

  13. Its hard to choose, but if you must make me pic, it'll be the one I intend to make for christmas dessert… The blackberry vanilla custard cheesecakey tart. I mean, simply the title suggests that this is the best thing since sliced bread and I cant wait to try it.

  14. Mine is left over lamb curry.
    In a house full of fussy children who don't like lamb this was perfect, and what's amazing is they ate it.

  15. OMG, so many yummy recipes! But just looking at picture of the Indian Barbecue Chicken with Spinach, Mango & Avocado Salad makes my mouth water!

  16. Do you have a recipe for the kumara and potato gratin? That sounds so yummy! I can't wait to try out the chicken – stuffing is way overrated!

    I love the croque monsieur recipe – the adults version of a ham and cheese sandwich,and the French Onion Soup is the icing on the cake!

    1. Hi Philippa – if you look in the index for Retro night beef wellington, I used the gratin recipe there, but used half kumara and half potatoes πŸ™‚

  17. My favourite would have to be Dark Chocolate Brownies with White Chocolate and Sea Salt

  18. I came across your Spicy Fish Tacos recipe a few months ago and fair too say I have made it several times ever since! I've actually made several of your recipes and all are so delicious!

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