However the principals are the same and fresh herbs will lift the flavour of any bird – thyme, sage, marjoram and fresh bay leaves are my particular favourites. When you get the hang of roasting the perfect chicken you should play around with flavours, like smoked paprika, lemon and thyme or cumin, coriander and preserved lemon or how about honey and mustard. They all work fantastically well and will go with any number of accompaniments. Serves 4-6
1.1-1.4kg good quality fresh chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 handful fresh herbs – parsley and thyme or sage, picked and finely chopped
- If using fresh bay leaves only use a couple as they are very strong and don’t worry about chopping them.
4 cloves garlic
4 Tbsp olive oil or any good quality oil
Preheat oven 225C
Wash the chicken inside and out with cold water and pat dry.
Place the chicken breast side up on your chopping board. Tuck the little winglets towards the centre of the chicken and fold under the body. Using a sharp knife slash the drumsticks and thighs a few times (this will allow them to cook faster and for the flavours to penetrate easier). I also like to loosen the skin on the breast by carefully easing my fingers under the skin and lifting it up gently. Season it with a little salt and pepper and push a generous amount of herbs into the gaps, drizzle a little oil and carefully pull the skin tightly back over the breast to cover all flesh.
I quite often like my roast chicken to be a platform for my dinner and this doesn’t mean with all the trimmings like a traditional roast. So I often stuff the cavity with a fresh lemon, garlic and a few bay leaves or thyme sprigs.
You can truss (tie) the chicken up at this point by fastening the legs together, wrapping it around the breast and fastening under the bird – or however works for you!
Rub any leftover herbs onto the skin and cavities, season well with salt and pepper and finally drizzle with oil. Rub it all in one last time and place breast side down into your hot roasting tray and roast for 10 minutes then turn it over and continue to roast for another 5 minutes, turn the oven down to 180C for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the juices run clear.
If you wanted to do roast potatoes simply add those 30 minutes into cooking and roast until golden and crispy.
To finish off your gravy; remove the chicken and any vegetables, carefully drain off excess oil and return the roasting dish back to the heat, add a little water or stock and stir the juices to remove any sediment from the bottom. Taste and season if necessary, keep the heat up fairly high as you want to reduce the liquid so it become thicker and richer in flavour, doing this method means you don’t need to thicken it with flour or cornflour which impairs the flavour. Pour over the chicken when desired consistency.