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Recipe - Julie Le Clerc's Roast and Toffee pudding - 31 May


1.5kg corn fed, free-range or organic chicken
Small bunch fresh sage
20g butter, softened
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

-Heat oven to 190 deg C. Rinse chicken inside and out and dry with paper towels. Finely chop 2 or 3 sage leaves and combine with the softened butter.
-Separate the skin from the meat of the chicken over the breast area. Push the sage butter into the gaps on either side over the breast and smooth out the skin.
-Place chicken breast-side up in a roasting pan. Stuff remaining sage, garlic and lemon into the cavity then tie the chicken's legs together with string to hold in the flavourings.
-Drizzle with chicken with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour or until the chicken tests cooked (see note below), basting the chicken with the juices in the pan once or twice during cooking.
-Remove chicken to rest for 5 to 10 minutes and keep warm under a tent of foil while you make the gravy (see recipe page?)

Chef's secret: The best way to test that a whole chicken is correctly cooked is by inserting a small sharp knife deep into the thigh meat - if the juices that run out are clear, not pink, then the chicken is cooked.


This is a classic gravy made using all the tasty juices from the roasting pan. Make sure you scrape all the lovely-caramelised sediment from the bottom of the roasting pan as this adds extra flavour to the gravy.
Makes 2 cups
4 tbsp fat, skimmed from the pan juices (see method)
3 tbsp plain flour
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

- Strain fat and cooking juices from roasting pan. Skim fat from surface of meat juices, reserve 4 tablespoons of the fat for making the gravy and discard remaining fat. Add the flavoursome meat juices from the roasting pan to the prepared stock.
- In the roasting pan, blend the fat and flour together until smooth. Cook over a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is the colour of pale straw.
- Remove pan from the heat. Pour on the stock and blend well, scraping the tasty sediments of cooking from the bottom of the pan. Return pan to the heat and cook, stirring until thickened.
- Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper before serving.

Chef's secrets:
- To make a thicker gravy mix more flour and fat together before adding the stock.
- If the finished gravy is too thin, boil it to reduce to a thicker consistency.
- If the finished gravy is lumpy, strain it through a fine sieve to give a smooth consistency.


Roast spuds are the quintessential roast vegetable. The key to great roast potatoes is to use the right kind of potato for roasting - this needs to be an old, floury potato variety so that the finished roast spuds turn out dry and fluffy inside and golden crisp on the outside.
Serves 6
12 medium-sized roasting potatoes (I used Agria potatoes)
24 bay leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

- Peel the potatoes and cut in half lengthways. Use a sharp knife to cut slits 5mm apart all down the back of each potato, cutting only half way through so the potatoes do not come apart. Insert a bay leaf into one slit of each potato half.
-  Heat oven to 190degC. Place prepared potatoes in a roasting pan, cut-side down. Drizzle with olive oil; scatter with crushed garlic and season with salt and pepper. 
- Roast for 45 to 55 minutes or until crisp and golden brown and potatoes are tender. Serve as a vegetable accompaniment to roast chicken.

Chef's secret: I choose to roast my vegetables in olive oil because of the health benefits of using this good oil as opposed to animal fat for roasting. A good olive oil will also add extra flavour to the vegetables.


150g pitted Medjool dates, coarsely chopped
275ml boiling water
1/2 tsp baking soda
60g butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 eggs
1 1/8 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1 Place dates and baking soda in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Set aside to soak and cool to room temperature.
2 Heat oven to 180degC (160degC fan bake). Lightly grease eight 180ml capacity cake tins. Place butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and vanilla in a bowl and beat well until pale. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
3 Stir in sifted flour. Lastly, stir in cold date mixture. Spoon pudding mixture into prepared tins and bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
4 Cool puddings in tins for 10 minutes before running a small palette knife around the sides to loosen and remove them from the tins. Serve puddings warm and generously drizzled with toffee sauce.

TOFFEE SAUCE - Makes 1 cup

75g butter
2/3 cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup cream
1 Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring mixture to the boil, stirring until the butter melts and the sugar has dissolved.
2 Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Transfer sauce to a serving jug.

Chef's secrets:
- The puddings can be made up to 4 days in advance. Reheat puddings on an oven tray in a moderate oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or microwave briefly, just until warm.
- Sticky toffee puddings can be frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 months.
- Although the toffee sauce cannot be frozen, it is quick and easy to make and lasts for up to a week if stored covered in the refrigerator. Toffee sauce firms upon sitting so is best served warm or hot.
- For an even more exciting sauce combination, swirl some chocolate sauce through the toffee sauce. To make easy chocolate sauce, melt equal quantities of chopped dark chocolate and cream together and whisk until smooth.