“Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy.” ~ Julia Child
I was about to roast a chicken yesterday morning when a friend popped in. “Can you wait just a minute while I get this roast ready” I asked her.
She looked at me as if I was from another planet. “Seriously? How long will that take?”
And then I found out she had never, ever roasted a chicken. She had only ever bought cooked birds from the supermarket.
Roasts are one of the simplest and fail-proof meals you can make. I roast a lovely little organic chicken weekly, and then turn the frame into a good fast chicken stock to use for the rest of the week. This one roast will give us a hot meal, and then meat for soups, sandwiches, curries or stir fries as well as a pot of nutritious stock. It’s an economical and easy method of cooking.
Nothing beats the flavour of a home-cooked chicken, and it is surprisingly easy. I taught my friend yesterday, the way my grandmother showed me. And tomorrow I’ll show you how to make simple bone broth – a good chicken stock from the leftover roast bones.
1 x 1.5kg organic or free-range chicken, a little olive oil, salt and freshly cracked pepper, and optional but good extras are a lemon, some fresh herbs (I used parsley, lemon thyme and a little sage), and a few garlic cloves
Let the chicken come to room temperature.
**Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius (400 degrees fahrenheit)
Lightly crush three garlic cloves with the back of a knife (no need to remove skin), juice half a lemon, and wash and dry your fresh herbs.
Wash chicken, including the cavity, and pat dry with paper towels.
Trim any excess fat around the cavity. Then place chicken on a rack or trivet inside a suitable baking pan. (If you don’t have a trivet you could use some chopped up vegetables – or just place it in the pan, but it might stick a little.) Pour a little lemon juice over the chicken, front and back. Use your clean hand to rub it over the skin.
Then pour a little oil over the bird and once again use your hand to rub the oil over the entire bird before placing breast up on the trivet.
Stuff the garlic, herbs and the lemon (squeezed and unsqueezed) into the cavity. Season with a little salt and pepper.
I never bother to truss my chicken. Place in the over for one hour and fifteen minutes. The chicken will now be crispy skinned, fragrant, juicy and delicious.
Test that the chicken is cooked by gently pulling a leg away from the body. It should come easily and the juices between the leg and the body will run clear. If the juices are pink put the bird back in the oven a little longer.
Tomorrow I’ll show you how to use the pan juices (all that lovely caramelised goodness in the bottom of your pan), and the leftover bones and frame, to make an easy good stock.