Roast chicken

Recipe by:

Food writer Angela Nilsen set out to perfect a number of classic recipes in the name of culinary research in her book, and this roast chicken recipe is a triumph

Roast chicken

SERVES

4

PEOPLE

PREP TIME

20

MINUTES

COOKING TIME

90

MINUTES

CUISINE

Irish

COURSE

Main

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/gas mark 5.

  2. Halve the lemon and prick all over with a skewer,  this releases the juices and adds fragrance to the chicken as it roasts. Push the onion and lemon into the cavity of the chicken, along with the bay or tarragon. Keep the other sprigs for garnish.

  3. Melt the butter and brush the chicken all over with a pastry brush, including the parts where the thighs meet the body of the bird. Season liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper.

  4. Now you have a choice: If you have a rack, sit the bird on that, on its side, propped up with balls of foil if the rack is flat. If not, put a few chunks of carrot, red onion or both on the bottom of a buttered roasting tin (choose one that the bird will fit into snugly) and sit the chicken on them.

  5. Roast for 20 minutes on the first side. Then, if the bird is on a rack, scatter the red onion underneath if you want to make the gravy (see below). Turn, then baste with some of the juices and roast for 20 minutes on the other side. Turn the chicken breast-side up, keep the wings tucked under and baste again. Remove foil and roast for another 30-40 minutes until golden.

  6. To test whether the chicken is cooked, push a skewer into the fleshiest part and if the juices are clear, rather than pink, it is done. Or give the legs a bit of a tug — the chicken is done if they wiggle and move away from the body easily. If not, roast a bit longer.

  7. Lift the chicken out of the oven and leave it to relax, loosely uncovered with foil, for 10-15 minutes.

  8. Sit it on your best platter and tuck a few bay sprigs in the cavity.

  9. Scatter a red onion, in wedges, in the bottom of the roasting tin for the last 50 minutes.

  10. Remove the chicken from the tin and, while it rests, tip a 250g carton of crème fraiche into the tin with the onion and juices and heat through, stirring. If you want to make it go further, pour in some stock.
    The Ultimate Recipe Book by Angela Nilsen is published by BBC Books

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered

  • 1.6kg-1.8kg organic chicken

  • Sprigs of bay leaves, or bunch of fresh tarragon

  • 25g butter, and a bit extra to butter the tin

  • 1 large red onion, peeled and cut in thick wedges for optional gravy

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/gas mark 5.

  2. Halve the lemon and prick all over with a skewer,  this releases the juices and adds fragrance to the chicken as it roasts. Push the onion and lemon into the cavity of the chicken, along with the bay or tarragon. Keep the other sprigs for garnish.

  3. Melt the butter and brush the chicken all over with a pastry brush, including the parts where the thighs meet the body of the bird. Season liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper.

  4. Now you have a choice: If you have a rack, sit the bird on that, on its side, propped up with balls of foil if the rack is flat. If not, put a few chunks of carrot, red onion or both on the bottom of a buttered roasting tin (choose one that the bird will fit into snugly) and sit the chicken on them.

  5. Roast for 20 minutes on the first side. Then, if the bird is on a rack, scatter the red onion underneath if you want to make the gravy (see below). Turn, then baste with some of the juices and roast for 20 minutes on the other side. Turn the chicken breast-side up, keep the wings tucked under and baste again. Remove foil and roast for another 30-40 minutes until golden.

  6. To test whether the chicken is cooked, push a skewer into the fleshiest part and if the juices are clear, rather than pink, it is done. Or give the legs a bit of a tug — the chicken is done if they wiggle and move away from the body easily. If not, roast a bit longer.

  7. Lift the chicken out of the oven and leave it to relax, loosely uncovered with foil, for 10-15 minutes.

  8. Sit it on your best platter and tuck a few bay sprigs in the cavity.

  9. Scatter a red onion, in wedges, in the bottom of the roasting tin for the last 50 minutes.

  10. Remove the chicken from the tin and, while it rests, tip a 250g carton of crème fraiche into the tin with the onion and juices and heat through, stirring. If you want to make it go further, pour in some stock.
    The Ultimate Recipe Book by Angela Nilsen is published by BBC Books