This is a classic roast chicken with a sauce that combines the tartness of the gooseberries with the savour of chicken and a touch of smooth creaminess. Serve with buttered noodles and a bowl of garden peas, the sugar pod variety if possible.
Wipe the chicken inside and out with a clean damp cloth. Toss together the onions, celery, herbs, zest, ½ teaspoons of the salt and pepper. Stuff lightly into the body and neck cavities. (This is not an “eating” stuffing, but simply a “flavouring” stuffing.) Truss the chicken and set on a rack in an open roasting pan. Brush all over with the melted butter, reserving any that remains for preliminary basting.
Roast for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F and roast about 1 ½ hours more. Baste periodically, first with the butter and then with the pan juices. About 15 minutes before the end of the roasting time sprinkle on the remaining salt.
The chicken is done when the skin on the breast turn crisp and golden and puffs up. The drumstick will also jiggle loosely. A further test is to stick a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh; if the juices run clear the chicken is done. The interior temperature of the thickest part of the thigh should register 190°F (88 C). Transfer to a heated platter and let stand 10 minutes, to allow the juices to be absorbed back into the flesh.
To make the sauce in the meantime, melt the butter. Add the gooseberries and sauté 5 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Add the honey and salt. Puree and return to a clean saucepan.
When the chicken is finished, skim all the fat off the roasting pan. There should be about ½ cup of brown drippings. Add the drippings to the gooseberry sauce, heat through and stir in the cream. Taste. It might be necessary to add more honey, but the sauce should be tart to contrast with the crisp rich skin and juicy meat. Heat the sauce until it bubbles, pour it into a warmed sauceboat and serve over the carved chicken. Yields 6 generous servings.