I was recently very excited to get an offer from Abel and Cole (who deliver organic fruit to us at work every week) of a free range chicken. They’d read about my nascent blog here and wanted to send me a chicken to roast. I have included some pictures below (along with some pictures of the roast potatoes I did to go with them):
I was probably more excited about the prospect of cooking a roast on a work night than I should have been. I was also excited about writing it up for No More Recipes – I wanted to talk about cooking roast chicken without a recipe.
There are loads of places that talk about cooking at exactly this temperature for exactly that long. I don’t cook it like that.
Here’s the entirety of my roast chicken cooking process:
- Get a chicken (take out the giblets – I’ve forgotten that before – it’s a mistake!)
- Turn the oven on high (I used gas mark 9)
- Olive oil, sea salt, pepper, lemon juice over the top of the chicken in an open roasting dish
- Stick the squeezed-out lemon and some crushed garlic inside the chicken
- Throw the chicken in the oven while beginning the potato-roasting process
- When the potatoes go in, I move the chicken down to the bottom of the oven which means I don’t have to change the temperature of the oven and can do the roasties nice and crispy
- Baste it every so often and when everything’s cooked (juices running clear from the chicken) put it to one side to rest. Expect 1-1.5 hours for the whole thing up to this point – there’s enough leeway in the rest of the process to allow for variances in temperature / size of bird etc.
- Make a gravy from the juices. Stick the roasting pan on the hob and add a bit of flour (I use spelt flour), some water (from boiling veg if possible), some Dijon mustard. I have no idea how much of any of these things I add – have a play and see what works for you. Other fun ingredients include: some kind of alcohol for the deglazing (wine, sherry, masala…), stock if you’ve got it made yet (see below), herbs and spices etc. Knock yourself out
- Serve it!
Making a chicken stock
Making a chicken stock is one of those things that sounds like it might be ‘real cooking’ with recipes to follow etc. but it’s actually one of the very easiest things to do (and one of the hardest things to get wrong). The basic principle is boiling left over bits for ages in loads of water alongside anything with a bit of flavour. Then strain and keep the clear stock. You can freeze it and keep for ages – great for making risotto in particular.
Here are some things I like to throw in as well as the chicken carcas and giblets:
- Olive oil
- Good quality salt
- Whole peppercorns
- Bay leaf
- Any other herbs I can lay my hands on
- Chopped up chillies or dried chilli (if you fancy a bit of heat to the stock)
- Whole garlic cloves
One other tip to add a bit of extra flavour is to start the whole process with oil and giblets before adding the water and everything else. Just browning it all a little before adding everything else makes for a great start for the stock.