There is no food in the world better than a roast chicken. Yeah, I said it. I won’t take it back.
You can have it with anything: the full Sunday roast, obviously, but also in sandwiches, pies, soups, stir fry, curry. The list of ways to get roast chicken in my belly is absolutely endless.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t bad roast chicken out there… which is why I am going to share with you the best way to roast the bird; crispy skin, juicy meat and all. It is awfully simple, to the point where I am not sure I should be sharing this with you at all.
Beware, this involves a lot of butter. Do not expect this recipe to be at all healthy… far from it I am afraid.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: Dependent on the size of your chicken (please check the packaging)
1 chicken (pick the size you need for the mouths it will feed. I tend to buy a medium which gives us two/three meals)
1/2 bulb of garlic
A bunch of rosemary
Butter (spreadable will make your life easier, but if you only have a block try and leave it out on the side for the most of the morning before you start cooking to get it to room temperature)
Give the chicken a wash, and put your oven on at 220 degrees celcius. I know this seems high and against all instructions on the packaging, but you are going to have to trust me.
Get the lemon and prick it all over with a sharp knife, don’t be afraid to go deep! We want the flavour from the lemon to permeate the chicken, so be bold.
Crush the garlic bulb half into segments and fill the cavity of the chicken with them, followed by some sprigs of rosemary. Garlic helps to flavour the chicken, but also to keep it juicy and succulent, so it really is a must. You can take the skins off if you like – when the chicken is cooked they are like precious jewels, and I love to eat them whilst I am carving.
Follow the garlic and rosemary by placing the lemon in the cavity too, and then make sure the legs of the chicken are ‘closed’ using the butchers string that came with the chicken. We want the lemon to be able to steam whilst cooking, and the closed legs will help the flavour permeate the meat.
Now is the part that will make health conscious people shudder slightly. Cover the whole chicken in butter. Yep, the whole thing. I recommend placing some in your hands and warming it up a touch by rubbing your hands together, and then straight onto the chicken, making sure you don’t miss all of the little crevices. Who knew it would be so satisfying giving a chicken a massage?
Now cover the bird with a fine layer of salt (sea salt preferable), and pop in the oven for the time specified on the chicken packaging (it is usually 1 hour and 45 minutes). I use a pan with a wire tray, and I have found that this helps keen the chicken juicy… it can dry out directly on the pan itself. If you don’t have a wire tray, you can cut up a few onions to make a little bed for the chicken to rest on, and it works just as well.
If you are cooking up all the sides for a roast, remember the chicken needs to rest for 15 minutes before you carve, so time the other elements accordingly.
After 20 mins, reduce the heat of your oven to 190 degrees celcius. This first blast of heat was to help the chicken skin on its way to being really lovely and crispy. Every 20 minutes or so, get a baster or large spoon, and get any of the juices in the pan over the chicken. This helps the skin get all of the flavour… your dinner companions will be fighting over it, I swear.
Take the chicken out of the oven after the allotted time and place on a chopping board, and cover with foil or a large tea towel for 15 minutes before you carve, and try not to eat all of the skin before the meat hits the dinner table. Speaking of carving, I tend to shred the chicken straight away (it is much easier than waiting until it is cold). This will make it much easier to assemble chicken sandwiches the following morning.
Edit: for the most gorgeous roast potatoes, pop the chicken directly on the rack over your potato tray. The chicken fat drips directly onto the potatoes, and you will never want to do it another way ever again. Heavenly.