How to roast the perfect chicken is one of the most wonderful techniques to master.
Once you know how to do it you can vary the flavour anyway you like. Pushing a compound butter under the skin helps keep the breast moist – so does resting the chicken breast side down.
Serves 4 – 6
Preparation Time 10 mins
Cooking Time 65 minutes plus 20 minutes resting
1.8k free-range chicken
125g butter, softened
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1Ž4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large lemon, quartered
1 small bunch thyme
2 red onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1/3 cup (80ml) verjuice or white wine
1 cup (200ml) chicken stock
1 Bring chicken and butter to room temperature for 30 minutes at least. Remove any giblets and excess fat from the chicken cavity. Rinse chicken inside and out under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Tuck the wing tips under the body.
2 Pre-heat oven to 200’C (180’C).
3 Mix all but one tablespoon butter, mustard, garlic, pepper and salt. Using your fingers, push in between breast and skin. Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper and tuck in the lemon quarters and thyme.
4 Truss the chicken if desired. Rub the rest of the chicken with remaining butter and sprinkle with more salt and pepper.
5 Place onion slices in a baking dish jus large enough to hold chicken and place chicken on top, breast side up.
6 Roast chicken for 20 minutes, then turn over, baste with pan juices and cook for a further 20 – 30 minutes breast side down, or until golden on the under side. Add a splash of water to the onions if necessary to prevent them burning. Turn chicken breast side back up and cook for another 15 or more minutes (around 65 minutes in total), or until golden. Chicken is cooked when juices run clear when pierced through the thickest between the leg and the body.
7 Remove chicken to a warm plate and rest breast side down, covered loosely with foil and rest for at least 20 minutes.
8 Meanwhile remove excess fat from roasting dish and reserve juices. (A fat separating jug is ideal). Add verjuice or wine to the roasting pan with the onions. Bring to the boil over medium high heat then add reserved pan juices and chicken stock. Bring to the boil and scrape up brown bits with a wooden spoon, and boil until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Strain into a jug, pressing on onions to extract any liquid. Discard onions.
9 Untie the legs, and remove and discard thyme, and lemon. Carve, and add any juices which come out of the chicken to the sauce.
Cook’s Notes: Trussing a chicken, ensures the bird keeps its shape and cooks evenly. Fold the wing tips back, tucking them behind and under the wings. Then tie the legs together with cotton kitchen string, or secure them in place with skewers or poultry pins.
Crisp Roast Potatoes
1.5kg potatoes, peeled
25g butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1Ž2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 Steam or boil potatoes for 10 minutes or until almost tender; drain. Return hot potatoes to saucepan; shake over high heat for about 1 minute or until the surface of the potatoes is rough (this helps to make them crisp).
2 Place potatoes in a large baking dish; toss with butter and oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered, in a hot oven, turning once, until brown and crisp. Add rosemary, roast for a further 5 minutes or until potatoes are browned and crisp.