Food & Drink

How To Really Roast a Chicken

By AJ James
19th May 2015

The beyond excellent Nigella Lawson once wisely said, "You could probably get through life without knowing how to roast a chicken, but the question is, would you want to?" 

And excluding vegetarians and vegans, the answer to that question from the majority of eaters across the globe is no doubt a resounding, “No Nigella. I don’t”. And rightly so, and with jolly good reason, for a roast chicken really is the symbolic dish of comfort food. It evokes reference to the ingrained and sacred ritual that was Sunday lunch or dinner from earlier years, and today when eaten outside of those allocated times, can lend a little calm and soothe to moments that were otherwise preceded with calamity, and the fast pace found in the standard nine to five.

Yes, knowing that the end of a workday will be met with roast chicken, gravy and ‘taters’ is one hell of a feeling. I put it down to the promise of soft, sweet flesh that’s shrouded by crispy salted skin.

Because if a roast chicken doesn’t speak of safety and equate to one delicious safe harbour, then I don’t know what dish does. Here’s how to roast one very comforting chicken.

What You'll Need

The best chicken you can buy―free range is a must, organic is a plus. The flesh is beyond better.
A jolly good amount of butter
Whatever herbs you have around (e.g thyme, rosemary, parsley―the more the merrier)
Good salt and pepper
Olive oil
A lemon
Some kitchen twine 

How To Roast Your Bird

Preheat oven to 220 degrees.

Under cold running water, rinse your chicken inside and out, before patting it down thoroughly with kitchen towel.

Next liberally salt your chicken on the inside, and the skin on the outer.

Cut your lemon into 4, and place the wedges in the chicken bottom, along with a fistful of what herbs you’ve decided to use (or actually have).

Cut about 30cm of your kitchen twine off, and use it to tie the legs together, securing at the little drumstick knob that lives 1cm from the base of their legs. Secure.

Rub your chicken liberally with butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Liberally salt and pepper the skin. You can add paprika to the skin so it looks even more golden…

Place on a baking tray, and if you’ve got it, on a rack sitting in the baking tray.

Transfer chicken to the oven, and roast on high for 20 minutes, before turning down to 190 degrees.

Roast for another 45 minutes before carefully removing.

Using a kitchen skewer test to see if the juices run clear

Check to see if the juices run clear by inserting a kitchen skewer into where the thigh and breast intersect. If blood comes out put it back in the oven and continue to cook, checking at 10-minute intervals.

It’s really important you do this, or you will get salmonella. You’ll be really thin. But you’ll also be really sick.

When your chicken is ready, cover for 20 minutes so the meat can have a rest before you cut it. It’s important you do this to guarantee the meat doesn’t seize up.

Image credit: Gimme Some Oven

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