Perfect Roast Chicken

There is nothing quite like a good roast meal. This week, I am making a mighty tasty roast chicken – crispy skin on the outside and sweet and tender flesh on the inside served with sweet, semi-caramalised carrots and crunchy potatoes. Oh, let’s not forget the gravy.

Leftover roast chicken is wonderful sandwiched or wrapped with cold crisp lettuce, red juicy tomatoes, drizzled with lemon juice, maybe some home-made mayonnaise and finished with a good crack of black pepper. If anything, that’s my main motivation to make a roast this week.

PERFECT ROAST CHICKEN
Serves: 4-6
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes

CHICKEN
1.6 kg, free-range or organic chicken
1/2 semi-juiced lemon
1 tbsp freshly ground whole black pepper
1 tbsp light soy sauce or tamari*
1 tbsp sea salt
1 onion, roughly chopped
olive oil
small bunch of herbs of choice

* gluten-free option

1. Take chicken out of fridge 30-45 minutes before it goes in the oven. This allows the meat to be at room temperature which will allow even cooking. Preheat oven to 240°C. Drizzle chicken with olive oil and really massage soy sauce, sea salt and black pepper into the chicken. The soy sauce will give the chicken a nice golden brown colour. Be sure to generously season the cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff the chicken with 1/2 a lemon and herbs of choice. I like sage and thyme with chicken.

2. What I tend to do is pop the chicken on a raised rack breast-side up and pour 1/2 cup of chicken stock at the bottom of the roasting tray with a whole onion that has been roughly chopped. This will stop the chicken juice from burning but you’ll still get nice dark, gooey bits of chicken juice and fat for the gravy.

3. Place chicken into the preheated oven. After 5-10 minutes, turn heat down to 200ºC and allow to cook for a total time of 1 hr 20-25 minutes. To test if the chicken is ready, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear with no sign of pink, this indicates that the chicken is cooked.

4. When chicken is done roasting, remove from the oven and allow to rest on a raised rack until ready to serve to maintain the crispiness of the skin. Many recipes suggest covering the whole chicken up in foil but in my experience, as long as the chicken is not overcooked, the meat will be equally juicy. Be sure to have a plate underneath the chicken to collect the juices that will be dripping out of the chicken for the gravy.

 


EXTRA CRISPY POTATOES
4-5 large potatoes, peeled and chunked
1 tbsp lard
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper

1. Once the chicken is in, it’s time to get the vegetables ready. Peel potatoes and cut into rough chunks. With large potatoes, I’ll usually cut them in thirds and halve them along the long axis (as pictured).

2. Place potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and parboil until potatoes are just soft enough to be poked with a knife and still has some resistance in the centre.

3. Reserve some potato water in a jug for gravy and drain the rest. Drizzle some oil and add a few good cracks of pepper over the potatoes. Put the pot lid back on and give the potatoes a good shake. This will ‘fluff’ the potatoes up which will allow for extra crisp.

4. Grease baking tray with a bit of lard or oil. Place tray in oven until oil is smoking hot. Carefully remove tray from oven and add the potatoes. Return tray to oven and bake away until potatoes are golden brown and crisp which will take anywhere from 45-60 minutes depending on your oven. Turn the potatoes around halfway through to ensure they are evenly browned.

For more potato seasoning ideas, visit Jamie’s guide to perfect roast potatoes.

DELICIOUS GRAVY
500ml chicken stock
1/2 cup potato water or vegetable juice
1 tbsp bisto powder or 1 oxo cube
1 glass of wine
roasted chicken wing tips and chicken neck
meat juice
black pepper

1. Once your chicken is done roasting, carefully scrap all the onion, brown bits, juice and fat from the bottom of the roasting tray into a saucepan. Break the tip of the chicken wings and neck and add into gravy. Over high heat, add potato water and stock and bring to boil. Turn heat down to medium and add wine and black pepper, bisto powder or oxo cubes.

2. In a small bowl, add some flour or cornflour with some liquid. Stir vigorously until dissolved. Once there are no clumps of flour left, pour mixture slowly into gravy whilst continuously stirring the gravy or you may end up with clumps of flour or sticky goo. Once gravy is nicely thickened, it’s ready to serve. If you wish, you can sieve your gravy for a smooth gravy.

Tip: If you are steaming vegetables with this roast meal, be sure to tip some of the vegetable water into the gravy.

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