I have such a weakness for Roast Chicken, I can’t deny it, I just can’t. The smell that wafts through the entire house, beautiful taste, the heavenly bread sauce, rich gravy. And that’s just the one meal. A week’s worth of roast chicken sandwiches for lunch. And months of the most extraordinary stock imaginable (that comes in the next post…)
First things first, call your friends and get them over for lunch, a late sunday lunch should do it, tell them (sorry, gently mention that they should) not to arrive empty-handed. The pop to the supermarket and buy:
1 chicken, the best you can afford
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 rashers bacon
A small handful of fresh thyme
Potatoes (as many as you think you need for the group I usually go with 5 roasties per person)
A green vegetable of some sort – at the moment, Beans – it’s got to be beans!!
1/2 pint chicken stock
A slug of white wine
- Unwrap your chicken, pat the skin dry with some kitchen roll, pre heat the oven to 190 degrees C.
- In a little dish on the side put the butter (best if its room temperature) chopped up thyme, garlic and about a teaspoon of lemon juice (don’t squeeze the lemon too hard when you do this, you need to slice the lemon to fit under the skin.
- Carefully undo the elastic that holds the legs in place, don’t take it off completely otherwise you’ll never get it back on. You just need enough room to get your fingers under the skin on the breast.
- put a chunk of the butter mix on the end of your fingers (about the size of a stock cube), put your fingers under the skin as far as you can get the squeeze the butter off your fingers, and then squeeze it down the rest of the way from the outside by massaging the skin. It’s really difficult to explain. Next time I’ll get a picture.
- Once you’ve got the butter down inside the skin of both breast, push a couple of lemon slices under the skin too. This may all seem like a bit of a faff but it’s really worth it!!
- Drape bacon rashers over the chicken and pop it in the oven for an hour and a half
- After about 20 minutes the bacon will be done so take it off and set it aside, put a square of kitchen foil over the spot where the bacon was, this will make sure the chicken doesn’t go dry. While you have the oven door open place a the roasting tray for your potatoes in the oven with either a very very generous slosh of Olive oil, or 2 very large tablespoons of duck or goose fat (the fat needs to be dangerously hot when you put your potatoes in)
- While the chicken is in the oven, peel the potatoes and cut them into roast potato size chunks. Pour boiling water over them and par boil the potatoes for a couple of minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and pop them back in the saucepan with a tablespoon of flour. Lid on. Shake like crazy.
- take the tray with the fat or oil on it out of the oven and tip the ‘fluffed’ potatoes on to the try. It will spit so stand back so you don’t get burnt or hot fat onto your clothes
- Pop them in the oven for about 40 minutes.
- When the chicken is done, take it out of the oven and pop it on a large plate (make sure the plate has edges otherwise any juice from the chicken will go everywhere.
- DON’T PUT THE ROASTING TIN IN THE SINK YET!!!
- Put it on hob, heat and with a wooden spoon scrap the sticky yumminess off the bottom of the tin.
- Add some veg stock, some white wine along with bits and bobs from the fridge and store cupboard… I haven’t put all this on because it really doesn’t matter what you put in. I generally put a combination of tomato puree, white wine, ketchup, gritty mustard, stock, pepper and a bit more wine. Make it to taste, keep tasting tasting tasting…
- Carve the chicken, pop a few potatoes and a spoonful of veg. Pour over a generous shloooop of gravy.
I feel the need to add a bit of a note a the bottom of this post about the chicken, I want to drum home that if it’s not free range, called Henrietta and reared by some farmer called Jock, it’s ok. Honestly it really is. If you can’t afford a the happiest of happy fat, the you can’t afford it, only buy what you can afford (ummm, obviously) but it’s about what you do with it, adding butter with herbs and garlic and other bits of yummines you’ll bring out all the flavour of the chicken.