Cut the white part of the leeks into rounds and wash them well. Remove the rind from the bacon and cut into 1cm cubes.
Remove the lumps of fat from inside the vent end of the chicken. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Rub the butter over the breast and legs of the chicken and put it breast-side down into a casserole. Allow it to brown on a gentle heat; this can take 5 or 8 minutes. As soon as the breast is golden, remove from the casserole and keep aside. Add the pieces of bacon to the casserole with a splash of oil. Cook the bacon until the fat runs and the bacon is golden. Then add the sliced leeks and toss together in the bacon fat. Season with freshly ground pepper, but no salt as the bacon will probably be salty enough. Then replace the chicken on top of the leeks and bacon. Cover the casserole and put into a moderate oven for 1¼–1½ hours.
When the chicken is cooked, remove to a serving dish. Lift out the leeks and bacon with a perforated spoon and put into the centre of a hot serving dish.
Skim the juices of all fat, add the chicken stock and cream, and bring to the boil. Thicken by whisking in a little roux. The sauce should not be too thick, just thick enough to coat lightly the back of a spoon. Allow to simmer on a low heat while you carve the chicken.
Carve the chicken into 4 or 6 helpings, depending on how hungry you all are; everyone should get a portion of white and brown meat. Arrange the leeks and bacon around the chicken. Taste the sauce and add a little more salt and freshly ground pepper if necessary. If the sauce has become too thick, add a little water. Spoon the hot sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
© 2001 Darina Allen. All rights reserved.