“Chicken is one of the most underrated meats available to us, as long as you know how to cook it properly and where to get a chicken that actually tastes like chicken,” says Jasper Avent, head chef at Melbourne restaurant The Town Mouse, which closed in 2018. “We get ours from Milawa Free Range Poultry.”

“As we had a great product, we didn’t want to mess with it too much. We decided to just halve it and cook it in one piece, roasted in a pan on nice gentle heat, skin down to make it crisp. It just needed a great sauce. The idea of coq au vin jaune sauce was appealing – but the price of the wine needed wasn’t. Instead we came up with a recipe using the same sort of flavours in the sauce.”

Roast Chook by The Town Mouse
Serves 2
Prep time: 30 minutes (plus overnight soaking)
Cooking time: 30 minutes*

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½ a chicken
3 cloves garlic
2 sprigs thyme
½ bay leaf
5g roast garlic puree
6g Dijon mustard
1g fenugreek, soaked overnight
1ml fenugreek soaking liquid
100g fresh shiitake, chopped
2 pickling onions
25ml Fino sherry
20ml dry white wine
100ml brown chicken stock, reduced
50g butter, diced
1g fresh tarragon


Preheat oven to 180°C.

Salt the chicken well and place skin side down in a warm pan with a good amount of oil. Cook on a medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until the skin begins to turn gold, then add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf.

If you’ve used a good cast iron skillet you can transfer the pan to the oven to roast as you’ll need the pan again. Otherwise transfer to a roasting dish with all the juices and roast for 8 to 10 minutes.

Check the meat between the leg and the breast, under the loin – it should still be a bit pink, but don’t be scared!

Mix roast garlic puree, Dijon, fenugreek and fenugreek liquid to form a paste.

Transfer the contents of the roasting dish back in the pan on a medium heat. Add the onions and shiitake mushrooms and saute gently.

Flip the chicken over and add the roast garlic paste to the onions and shiitake. Cook for a further minute.

Deglaze with the Fino sherry and reduce, then add white wine and chicken stock. Mix in the butter quickly, to keep it emulsified. Taste and add salt as required.

Finish with some fresh tarragon and serve.