- 1 onion, roughly chopped
Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…
- 1 free range chicken, about 1½ kg/3lb 5oz
Chicken's many plus points - its versatility, as well as the ease and speed with which it…
- 1 lemon, halved
Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…
- small bunch thyme (optional)
This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…
- 25g butter, softened
Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…
For the gravy
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 250ml chicken stock (a cube is fine)
Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Have a shelf ready in the middle of the oven without any shelves above it.
Scatter 1 roughly chopped onion and 2 roughly chopped carrots over the base of a roasting tin that fits the whole 1 ½ kg chicken, but doesn’t swamp it.
Season the cavity of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, then stuff with 2 lemon halves and a small bunch of thyme, if using.
Sit the chicken on the vegetables, smother the breast and legs all over with 25g softened butter, then season the outside with salt and pepper.
Place in the oven and leave, undisturbed, for 1 hr 20 mins – this will give you a perfectly roasted chicken. To check, pierce the thigh with a skewer and the juices should run clear.
Carefully remove the tin from the oven and, using a pair of tongs, lift the chicken to a dish or board to rest for 15-20 mins. As you lift the dish, let any juices from the chicken pour out of the cavity into the roasting tin.
While the chicken is resting, make the gravy. Place the roasting tin over a low flame, then stir in 1 tbsp flour and sizzle until you have a light brown, sandy paste.
Gradually pour in 250ml chicken stock, stirring all the time, until you have a thickened sauce.
Simmer for 2 mins, using a wooden spoon to stir, scraping any sticky bits from the tin.
Strain the gravy into a small saucepan, then simmer and season to taste. When you carve the bird, add any extra juices to the gravy.
Other rulesAlways leave your chicken to rest for at least 15 mins before carving. This will give you a juicy chicken that is a lot easier to carve. For a more succulent chicken, take it out of the fridge one hour before cooking to bring it up to room temperature. This rule applies to any meat you are roasting. Don’t worry about turning or basting your chicken as it roasts. Yes, these can give good results, but are fiddly for the beginner, plus every time you open the oven you lose heat.
The golden rule to roast chicken…A 1.5kg chicken will be perfectly roasted after 1 hr 20 mins at 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. It doesn’t matter what you stuff into it, rub or sprinkle over it or put around it, this timing never changes. Remember this and you will always be able to roast a chicken.
Barney says...Ever wondered how professional cooks turn out impressive dishes without even referring to a recipe? It’s simply down to basic rules, which have been followed so often that they become second nature, guaranteeing the dish will work every time. You can do the same thing at home – once you’ve learnt the must-dos, cooking becomes easier and you can relax and start to experiment more, knowing the end result will always be delicious. Simply follow the rules and you won’t go wrong.