Chicken roasting in the oven. Just one of my most favorite things in the world – the sweet aroma wafting throughout the house, the crispiness of the skin when you first cut into it, and of course – the promise of leftovers to make the next day a little less stressful. Ah, sigh.
I love the versatility it can bring to dinner, my usual routine at the moment is to give my babies some alongside finger vegetables for their dinner, then my son will have some with ketchup, fries, corn on the cob and crunchy fresh pepper. Feeding the kids is currently a hectic process so my partner and I normally eat together when they are tucked up in bed, during the summer we will have this in a salad with pretty much whatever is in the fridge: Chorizo, manchego, almonds, pine nuts, home made croutons, oven baked peppers – it’s completely up to you. Sometimes we will attempt a family dinner on a Sunday and if its chilly I’ll make a roast dinner or tray baked Mediterranean vegetables. Otherwise I just like to roast one for the sheer pleasure on a lazy Sunday evening, knowing that I’ll have a gorgeous freshly made chicken to see me through the next couple of days makes me sleep that much more sounder!
Here’s my method, its so easy and quick to throw together:
Firstly, buy the best you can afford – if you’re on a budget Aldi do excellent free range chickens at amazing prices.
You will need:
Butter and olive oil.
Sea salt and black pepper.
A couple of cloves of garlic.
Small selection of fresh herbs, whatever you have to hand. If you can’t get your hands on fresh some dried mixed, chicken or Italian are fine.
Half a lemon (unwaxed).
A few bulbs of garlic.
Method (Tip – If you are roasting this for an occasion such as a special family dinner, Christmas or Thanksgiving – do this method the night before and pop in the fridge. )
1. 20 minutes before you prep the bird, pre heat your oven to gas mark 5 / 375 degree Fahrenheit (190 C), Take your bird out of the fridge for 30 minutes prior to cooking to bring the temperature up a bit. Arrange it in a nice oven dish big enough to catch the juices without any spills.
2. Snip off any string and remove any giblets, next using the scissors – snip a little incision in the skin on top of the bird.
3. If you’re feeling virtuous – rub the chicken with a tbs of coconut oil – if you really want to go for it pop some room temperature butter in the incision and push it under the skin instead. Then rub another teaspoon over the top and pop a little in the carcass.
4. Next take your lemon and grate the zest over the bird (a teaspoon should do) and squeeze the juice all over the chicken. Pop the squeezed lemon in the carcass with a few cloves of garlic.
5. Grab some fresh herbs (or just use your dried if you can’t fine fresh), I like rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley and basil. This gives your chicken a lovely Mediterranean taste. Finely chop half of them discarding any stalks and sprinkle the finely chopped half over the top, put the unchopped half inside the chicken.
6. Finally sprinkle over some sea salt and black pepper and finish with a nice drizzle of olive oil. I then pour a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of the dish to stop it sticking and to give it a little bit of moisture.
7. Now your lovely chicken is ready to cook, pop it in the oven for approx 20 minutes per lb (450g) plus 10-20 minutes extra. This will be roughly 1 hour and 50 minutes for a 5lb (2.25 kg) bird.
8. Now pour yourself a nice drink and go relax while those yummy aromas waft through the kitchen, this step is very important! Use this time to potter around making a salad or vegetables to accompany the chicken if that’s what your going for.
9. Make sure you baste the chicken at least 3 times during the cooking process to keep it moist. You can check its fully cooked by popping a knife between the leg and body and seeing the juices run clear, you should be able to easily wobbly the leg too!
10. Once you are sure the bird is thoroughly cooked wrap some tin foil over the top and leave to stand for at least 20 minutes. This allows all the juices to permeate the bird. You can use the lovely juices in the bottom over the dish to make a nice gravy, or simple pour a few tablespoons over the chicken once its plated up. Don’t waste the juice, it tastes like heaven. Enjoy!
Tip. I get all the things I need ready in the dish (herbs, butter, garlic etc) before I add the chicken. Then you don’t have to worry about spreading raw chicken hands all over the kitchen – then save the salt and pepper part for the end once you’ve washed your hands.
Ideas for leftovers:
Chicken salad – whatever you prefer like, cobb / ceasar / Greek.
Serve with some roasted Mediterranean vegetables and a yummy homemade herby dressing. Sprinkle over some delicious feta, blue cheese or mozzarella.
Chicken stir fry.
Fajitas or Quesadillas.
Delicious chicken mayo sandwiches and homemade chips!
The chicken should last in the fridge for a few days if stored and cooled correctly, once its finished pop the remains in a slow cooker with some veg cuttings, herbs and salt and leave on low all night to make a really yummy stock. Simple.