Let’s think about what you’re going to need before you start.
A chook – This is probably the most important aspect of the recipe, so make sure you get a good one. Free range birds ARE a little more expensive, but they taste about 50% better, so make the investment. Chickens generally come in small, medium and large. We’re going to be using this for more than one meal, so get a fairly good sized one. (closer to 2kg than 1.5). If you’re squeamish about handling a raw chook, now is the time to speak up, because we’re going to get fairly intimate with this bird in the next few minutes.
A lemon – This is fairly self explanatory. If you don’t have a lemon tree, on the weekend, go buy one. They grow well in pots, and just about every dish in the world benefits from lemon zest or lemon juice or some combination thereof. Stop buying lemons, start growing them.
Some herbs – See above. Personally, I love thyme with chook, but rosemary and chicken have a long and delicious history together, as with sage. I will generally grab some combination of these three, depending on how my herb garden is travelling. (When using sage, remember it’s very very strong, so less is more – probably one leaf will do you for this whole chook) Here’s a great list of common herbs.
Some vegetables – What vegies do you like? Pick stuff that’s fairly dense; potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potato etc. A couple of onions chopped in quarters also taste great with roast chicken, as do a couple of cloves of garlic.
That’s it. Your list of ingredients for this dish is pretty simple!
A word about kitchen hygiene
Incorrect handling of raw poultry can make you very, very sick. Cross contamination, caused by using utensils or surfaces that have been in contact with raw poultry, can also make you very, very sick.
A quick and easy (and cheap) way to avoid any problems with such things is to buy some cheap plastic cutting boards, and ONLY use them for raw poultry and pork. Sit them on top of your other cutting surfaces, chop on them, and then throw them straight into the sink.
Now, to work!
- Firstly, turn on the oven – you want it fairly hot, I usually put mine around 200c (or 400f).
- Take the chicken, remove the giblet packet (if there is one), and wash it with cold water, inside and out. Pat it thoroughly dry with paper towels, inside and out.
- Now season. Use PLENTY of salt and pepper, sprinkle all over the bird, INSIDE AND OUT. Chop your lemon in half, and roughly chop half of your herbs. Put the lemon half, and your roughly chopped herbs, into the cavity.
- Take a stick of butter (say, 50g), cut it in half, and slide each piece up, under the chicken’s skin (get in from the flap just above the cavity and BE CAREFUL, DO NOT RIP THE SKIN) up to rest just on top of each breast.
- Rub the outside of your chook with a bit of olive oil, and half of the remaining herbs.
- Tie the ends of the drumsticks together with cooking twine to wrap the chook up, and place it onto a roasting rack in the middle of a roasting pan, breast side up.
- Scatter your vegies around the chicken, sprinkle with olive oil, a splash of white wine, salt, pepper and the remaining herbs. (If you want super fluffy and crispy potatoes, chop them and nuke them for a minute or two in the microwave before you put them in the oven).
- Throw this badboy in the oven and go do something else for half an hour.
- After half an hour, open the oven, baste the chicken with juices from the pan, and turn the pan 180 degrees. Turn the oven up slightly (to about 230c or 450f) and roast for a further half hour.
- By this point, your chicken SHOULD be cooked, but different ovens do different things and the size of the chook can also have an impact, so take a skewer and poke a hole in the fattest part of the thigh. If the juices run out clear, your chook is done. If they’re pink or red, your chook is not done, put it back in for another 10 or 15 minutes.
- When your chicken is cooked, take it out of the oven and rest it for about 10 minutes (under a tea towel on top of the cook-top is great) before carving. Use this time to blast your vegies if they’re not crispy enough, and if you want to make a salad or prepare something green and steamed (beans, broccoli, corn etc) then you can do that now.
- Carve the chicken, starting in a straight line down the middle to carve off each breast, then each leg, then each wing. There’s about six sizeable pieces of meat on each chicken. Give one to each diner, and leave the rest on a plate with the chicken carcass (which will still have a LOT of meat on it), throw that into the fridge.
- Serve up your roasted vegies. If there’s liquid remaining in the bottom of the pan, pour it over the chicken or into a gravy boat.
In the next post, I’ll tell you what to do with the leftover chicken you now have in your fridge!
Bill’s my online cooking guru. He provides me with some great recipes so that I can learn a thing or two. If you’re a food-slash-cooking lover you can check in on Chef Bill’s recipes as well. They’ll be appearing here regularly under the tag Bill’s Banquet. (The link up top will be working shortly). You can read his bio here ~ RD