I am a big fan of just cooking a chicken. Not necessarily for a specific meal (although I’m clearly always up for a roast) but to have in the fridge to use for the rest of the week. Chicken sandwich anyone? Risotto? A quick lunch with mash and some veg? Maybe chuck it in with some mushrooms, cream and pasta? Warm chicken salad? Yes to all the above please.
Please don’t waste the fat and juices that have drained off. There are a myriad of uses for them; add them to that risotto, thicken with cornflour to make a gravy, soak your sandwich bread in them. But under no circumstances waste them. I’ll know. I’ll come and get you.
I am aware that I have published a roast chicken recipe before this is an attempt to show the basics – how I trim the chicken, how to use a very simple butter to make it mega tasty and moist and how it doesn’t need to be cooked for all that long to be cooked through and crispy. Check out the colour of that skin!
If I am planning on using the chicken in more Asian based dishes, I’ll err towards replacing the herby butter mix with a flavourless oil mixed with garlic, ginger, chili and salt or soy.
1 Whole Chicken
1 Tbsp Sea Salt Flakes
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Dried Herbs
1 Tsp Garlic
Start by preheating the oven to 220c or equivalent and lining a square roasting pan with foil and parchment. I prefer a snug fit.
Use kitchen roll to pat the chicken dry. then rest it on a chopping board for the preparation procedure. I would recommend using a good pair of kitchen scissors and you’ll be done in 2 minutes tops.
Start by snipping off the string holding the chicken together. Keeping it trussed is a surefire way to end up with under-cooked thighs and over-cooked breasts. No one wants that.
I try to trim off as many of the bits I am not going to be eating as possible. Some of them such as the wing-tips and parsons nose just gross me out to look at. Some bits are only going to get discarded later so lets get rid of them now and not waste the buttery goodness in flavouring them.
Cut both of the wingtips off and both of the drumstick ends. Both are cut-able through the joint rather than through the bone so are very easy cuts to make.
Flip the chicken over and use a ‘V’ cut to cut off the parsons nose (the polite term for the chicken ass bit). Apparently Jay Rayner thinks this is a cooks treat but each to their own – I will never be eating this and I don’t think most regular people want to either.
I then use the same ‘V’ cut to cut out what remains of the neck bone whilst the bird is still upside down.
Right the bird then cut away the flabby bits of skin around the openings at both ends.
Move the chicken to the lined tin.
Mush 40g Butter, 1 Tbsp Sea Salt Flakes, 4 Tbsp Olive Oil, 1 Tsp Garlic and 3 Tbsp Dried Herbs (I used Sage, Thyme and Parsley) in a small bowl until vaguely combined – there may be lumps of butter left – not an issue.
Use your fingers to separate the skin from the meat and shove the buttery oil mix up into the cavity. If you really commit to the cause you can go all the way into the thighs and breast. Massage it to distribute evenly and rub any remaining butter onto the outside of the skin, not forgetting underneath the bird. If this is all too much for you, just smother the top of the skin with the whole butter mix.
Pop the chicken in the oven and leave for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, drain any juices into a bowl or saucepan.
Leave the chicken in the oven for another 30 minutes.
Then take it out the oven. Check it is cooked though by making a split where the thigh meets the breast. If there is any pink, put back in to cook for another 5 minutes.
Leave to rest covered with foil for at least 20 minutes before digging in. Alternatively leave it to go completely cool then refrigerate until needed. I tend to take the meat off the bone once it is cool enough to handle if I am doing this.
Tip – My chicken was 1.8kg. Reduce the cooking times for a smaller bird, increase them for a larger one. Don’t panic that my cooking time is fairly short – the oven heat is also fairly high which I think makes for a better roast and crispier skin. Also impatience.