CLASSIC roast chicken is yet another of those dishes that everyone should master. It's incredibly easy to prepare and cook and will always be a winner at the Sunday table.
What's more, with Easter fast-approaching, roast chicken is a great alternative to the more traditional leg of lamb.
I like to use rosemary and garlic when roasting chicken but you can add a variety of flavours and spices as desired. Lemon, sage and thyme are other popular choices or you could opt for Indian or Cajun spices for a less traditional take on the Sunday roast.
As always, try and buy the best quality produce you can afford. I prefer to use free range British chicken and I always buy my meat from a reputable butcher. If you buy your chicken from the supermarket, it is likely there will be cooking instructions on the packaging. These are meant as a guide but often encourage you to cook the bird for much longer than necessary, resulting in rather dry meat. The chicken should be moist and tender throughout and as long as the juices run clear, then it's perfectly cooked.
Serve with all the traditional Sunday roast trimmings or with a simple green salad and some buttered new potatoes for a tasty mid-week family meal. You can also use the cooking juices from the roasting tin to create a really delicious gravy.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 medium free range chicken
3-4 cloves of garlic, halved
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 200c.
Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before you intend to cook it and remove any string to allow the joints to hang loose. This will take the chill off the bird.
Gently release the skin from the breast part of the bird with your fingers to create a cavity between the skin and the meat and push the butter inside until evenly distributed. Smooth the skin back down and tuck underneath to keep the juices from escaping.
Slash the skin and meat on the legs with a sharp knife to encourage them to cook a little faster and more evenly (the leg meat takes longer to cook). Push some of the garlic and rosemary into the leg cavities and place the rest inside the main cavity of the bird.
Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in a large roasting tin. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, without disturbing. This will result in crispy, golden skin and moist, tender meat. If you have a larger bird, then cook for a little longer. You can check if the meat is cooked by piercing the thickest part with a skewer or sharp knife; the juices should run clear.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a further 20 minutes. Carve and serve immediately.