Before broiler chickens were available year-round, spring and summer were the only seasons to enjoy these tender little birds. A Canadian picnic was hardly a picnic without chicken, either roasted (by far the most portable and popular), poached and jellied in its own broth, or in a salad liberally dressed with boiled dressing or mayonnaise.
- Portion size 12 servings
- Credits : © CanadianLiving.com
- 2 broiling chickens (each 3 lb/1.5 kg)
- 1/3 cup soft butter
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 2 onions
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried crushed marjoram
- 2 bunches watercress
Wipe chickens dry inside and out.
Blend together butter, mustard, pepper and lemon peel; set aside for 20 minutes.
Into cavity of each chicken, place an onion, bay leaf and half the thyme and marjoram. Skewer cavities closed; tie wings to bodies and legs together with string.
Spread butter paste evenly over chickens. Place breast side down on rack in shallow roasting pan. Roast in 325°F (160°C) oven for 45 minutes, basting periodically with pan juices. Turn chickens over and roast breast side up for another 45 minutes, continuing to baste. Chickens are done when skin is golden and puffy, even crisp, and juices run clear when thigh is is pierced with skewer. Sprinkle lightly with salt ; cool to room temperature, then chill. Wrap well in plastic wrap or foil and transport in cooler.
Remove coarse stems from watercress. Rinse leaves and wrap loosely in damp towelling. Pack in rigid container and place in cooler. To serve, arrange bed of watercress on large platter and place chickens on top. Using poultry or kitchen shears, cut chickens into serving portions.