3 lb/1.35 kg very fresh chicken
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch of ground mace
pinch of ground ginger
a handful of fresh herb leaves
1/2 stick (2 oz) 50 g Butter, Softened
1/2 cup (6 tbsp) 75 ml dry white wine
1. Remove any fat from the cavity of the chicken. Rub the cut lemon over the chicken, then rub in the salt and spices. Put the lemon half in the chicken cavity.
2. With your fingers gently ease the skin away from the flesh. It is much easier to do this than it sounds, but take care not to pierce the skin. Then, working with one leaf at a time, push the herbs under the skin and lay them flat on the flesh. When you have finished, smooth the skin flat again, over the leaves. Any remaining herbs can be put inside the cavity. Cover carefully but loosely and refrigerate for at least a day to let the chicken flesh absorb the herb scents.
3. When ready to cook the bird, have the oven preheated to 200°C/400°F, gas mark 6. Rub the bird all over, particularly the breast, with softened butter and place it on a rack in a roasting tin, lying on one side of the breast. Add the wine and put in the oven.
4. After 20 minutes, turn the bird over on to its other breast and return it to the oven. After a further 20 minutes, turn it breast side up. Baste and continue cooking until the juices run clear when pierced by a skewer in the inner-most part of the thigh.
5. Carve at the table or in the kitchen, and add the cooking juices. Serve with roast or mashed potatoes and a green salad after it.