Roast chicken

Roast chicken

By
From
Best Kitchen Basics
Serves
4
Photographer
Petrina Tinslay

This is my go-to dish for any occasion, prompt or informal. It relies on the quality of the bird, so buy the best you can afford. Rubbing the skin with oil ensures it will be crisp and gives something for the salt and spices to adhere to. The chilli adds a certain frisson and shouldn’t be omitted.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 x 1.8kg free-range chicken
1/2 bunch thyme
25ml virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
freshly ground white pepper
1 lemon
1 red onion
2 teaspoons cornflour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Rinse the chicken under cool running water and pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Spread the thyme over the base of a roasting tin and put the chicken on top. Rub the chicken with the olive oil, ensuring it is thoroughly covered. Sprinkle over the chilli, salt and a good grinding of white pepper.
  4. Cut the lemon and onion into quarters and add them to the tin. Roast for 1½ hours, with the cavity of the chicken facing the rear of the oven. To test if the chicken is cooked through, look at the juices in the cavity. They should just be turning brown. If they are still bloody, another 5 minutes or so should suffice.
  5. When the chicken is ready, remove it from the roasting tin and put it on a warm plate to rest.
  6. Put the roasting tin on the stove top and remove some of the fat. Turn the heat to high and add 250 ml water. Bring to the boil, scraping the tin to incorporate the caramelised pan juices. Pass the jus through a fine sieve into a small saucepan.
  7. In a cup or small bowl, make a slurry with the cornflour and 1 tablespoon cold water and then whisk this mixture into the jus. Whisk over medium heat until thickened slightly.
  8. Carve the chicken and squeeze over the roast lemon quarters. Serve with the jus.

Note

  • I always serve this chicken with roast potatoes. I use desirée for preference but any waxy variety is fine. Peel the potatoes and cut them into eighths. Soak in cold water for a few minutes. Drain and then microwave on High (100%) for 2–3 minutes in a sealed container to set the starch and prevent them from sticking. Heat a heavy, cast-iron roasting tin in the oven. When hot, add 80 ml olive oil. Drain the potatoes again and rub them dry in a clean tea towel. Place them in the tin in an orderly fashion. They should sizzle. Brush them with some of the oil in the tin and season well with sea salt flakes. They will be done when the chicken is ready. Don’t be tempted to turn them until this time and you will be rewarded with a glassy, golden crunch.
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