You might think this recipe comes from Scandinavia – land of dill lovers – but in fact it was inspired by a fish dish I had in Turkey, where whole fish were cooked on a bed of potatoes and dill (and a little raki). You can go the raki route if you prefer.
This is a very comforting dish, but light and spring-like at the same time. You need a bit of colour, so serve it with roast tomatoes or a carrot purée. If you’re not a dill enthusiast then make this dish with parsley; it’s different, but just as good.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
Remove the coarser stems from the dill and set them aside. Take the rest of the dill – the light, leafy part – and roughly chop it. Mash the butter with half the chopped dill.
Carefully lift the skin of the breast and legs and push under about half the butter. Spread the remaining butter over the bird as well and season with salt and pepper. Put in a roasting tin or a flame and ovenproof dish from which you can serve the bird.
Squeeze the lemon over, then put the shells into the cavity of the bird with the stems of the dill. Truss the chicken, if you like. Cook in the hot oven for 20 minutes.
Slice the potatoes to about the thickness of a pound coin.
Wash the leeks, cut off and discard most of the dark green tops and the bases. Chop them into 4cm (1.in) lengths. Wash the chunks of leek thoroughly to ensure you get rid of any soil.
Take the chicken out of the oven and put the potatoes and leeks around it, turning to coat in the juices. Season.
Heat the stock to boiling and pour it on to the vegetables with the vermouth.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and return the bird to the oven for one hour. The potatoes will become tender and the cooking liquid reduce significantly.
If the vegetables haven’t absorbed all the liquid, remove the chicken to a warmed platter and insulate with foil to keep it warm. Set the roasting tin on the hob and boil until the liquid mostly disappears.
You can, at this stage, add the crème fraîche (it’s entirely a matter of taste, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t). Heat this through – it doesn’t have to be completely mixed into the vegetables, there is a rough edge to this dish that makes it all the more satisfying.
Check the vegetables for seasoning. Put the bird back on top of the vegetables, throw on
the rest of the chopped dill and serve.