This had to be the first entry to my blog. It pretty much epitomizes the essence of how I cook. This is a recipe I make with my own home-reared chickens, processed by my own hand and turned into an utterly delicious meal for my family and friends. A good roast chicken with crisp brown skin, juicy and tender in a bed of sweet melting onions and swimming in a rich gravy is one of the best home cooked dishes you can do. Shared with loved ones it is, for me, not only a dish worthy of most special occasions but a damn good meal that respects the life of the bird that provided it. This is the “hygge” of food.
A good (free range) chicken
4 onions, sliced
5 fat garlic cloves
A couple of bay leaves
Several sprigs of thyme
Take the chicken out of the fridge about 45 minutes before roasting to allow to come up to room temperature beforehand. This applies to any roasting joints, particularly those with bones – otherwise expect extended roasting times
Preheat the oven to GM8/230C.
Slice the “root end” off the garlic cloves but leave the papery skin on to protect them from the heat – they will become soft and sweet as they roast. Layer the garlic cloves, the sliced onions, thyme and bay in a roasting tin with a splash of olive oil.
Rub the butter over the roast chicken, season with pepper and sea salt and nestle amongst the onions in the roasting dish.
Put the chicken in the oven at the high heat for about 15 minutes to give it blast and brown the skin nicely.
Then turn the oven down to GM5/190C and allow to roast through until done. Expect it to take about 20mins per 500g of weight after the initial “blast” period. If the skin looks like it’s beginning to catch, cover it with some kitchen foil to protect it.
In order to test whether a roast chicken is cooked through you can:
– stab the thickest part of the thigh/breast
– cut into the hip joint and take a look
– tip the chicken up vertically and check the juices that run out of the cavity
In all cases the juice should run clear and the flesh should be firm.
Take the chicken out of the roasting dish and allow it to rest (at room temperature, covered in foil) for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime whack the oven up high again and put the onions back into caramelize into a deliciously gooey sweet mixture. If you have done roast potatoes with this meal then this is the point that you can get them really nice and crisp too.
To finish the gravy, whisk in some plain flour (the quantity will depend on the amount and strength of flavour of the juices released during roasting – start with a dessert spoon, you’ll develop your instincts the more you roast!). It’s easier to whisk into a small amount of fat first to make a roux, rather than whisking into a lot of liquid. As such, you can pour a little fat off into a separate pan to mix the flour into a thick paste, before adding it back to the main juices if you wish – or you can just sieve any lumps out later.
This roast chicken goes beautifully with either creamy mash or crispy roast potatoes, and I tend to serve it simply with lightly buttered carrots and peas.