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French Farmhouse Chicken


  • 6 medium yukon gold potatoes (about 2½ pounds or 1 kilogram), unpeeled, cut into large cubes
  • 2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 rosemary sprigs or more
  • 2 bay leaves or more
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups (400 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons (15 grams) finely chopped basil
  • 3 tablespoons (15 grams) finely chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons (15 grams) finely chopped chives
  • 3 tablespoons (15 grams) finely chopped fennel (see note)
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
  • 1 large (4½-pound or 2 kilogram) whole chicken


Preheat the oven to 450° F (232° C). Place the potatoes and onions in a roasting pan large enough for the chicken. Add the rosemary, bay leaves and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss well to coat.

In a small bowl, stir together the cheese, basil, cilantro, chives and fennel. Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the bird's cavity with the cheese mixture, then tie the two legs together with kitchen twine or twist tie. Do your best to catch the tailbone and close the cavity. The bird will “release” the contents of the cavity while cooking if not secured. Bend the wings underneath the bird, and place the chicken breast-side-up on top of potatoes and onions. Drizzle everything, including the chicken breasts, with olive oil.

Roast for 25 minutes. Lower the heat to 350° F (177° C) and continue to roast for about 45 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the size of your bird, or until the skin is dark brown and crispy, the juices run clear at the joint when punctured with a thermometer, and the internal temperature reaches 165° F (74° C).

Remove the chicken from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and snip off the twine. With a sharp, heavy knife or heavy duty kitchen scissors, cut the chicken down the center of the breast bone, splitting it to reveal its molten cheese interior. Measure out about ½ cup (118 milliliters) of the melted cheese and mix it directly in the roasting pan with the potatoes and onions, making sure to incorporate the drippings. Scoop out any remaining melted cheese into a bowl and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice; keep warm.

Cut the chicken into 8 pieces and serve with the potatoes, onions and extra melted cheese for slathering over the chicken.

Note: Use the soft, feathery fronds left intact on untrimmed fennel. Any thin stalks left behind can be steeped in boiling water for about an hour, then chilled to make a refreshing iced fennel tea.

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