Day 18: How To Roast The Perfect Chicken

Is it me, or is roast chicken one of the most comforting foods out there?

If someone offers to make me roast chicken I instantly feel at ease. If there’s gravy as well? I’d probably move in that day haha!

Whether it’s traditional British roast with stuffing, a marinated Caribbean delight, a Tuscan stuffed chicken and everything in between, it’s a truly delicious experience!

So how do you cook the perfect roast chicken with a golden skin and succulent meat?

Like most things, you can put tonnes of butter under the skin. That will keep the meat moist and turn the skin golden.

But did you know you don’t have to do that?

While I feel quite passionately about salted butter and will never discourage anyone from enjoying it, when it comes to my everyday cooking, I’m balanced and over the years have moved away from the butter and cream laden dishes for still equally delicious and natural alternatives.

The Only Secret You’ll Ever Need For Roasting A Chicken

When roasting your chicken, you have to be aware of weight and timings, but the one thing people often forget is this.

Baste your meat. Regularly.

Have you ever seen a cooking programme where the chef is cooking a steak and constantly basting with the pan juices? When roasting in the oven, we need to do the same because the high temperature within the oven will dry your meat out.

However when you baste your meat, you’re constantly replacing that moisture (as well as adding flavour) resulting in a juicer final meal.

Using The Whole Bird

If you’re cooking for 1 or 2 like I normally do, then buying a whole chicken can seem extravagant. However it’s actually a brilliant way of saving money, reducing food waste and respecting the animal because you can get up to 7 meals from a single chicken.

By jointing the bird and then using the carcass and giblets for stock, every part of the animal will be used.

If you’re roasting the chicken for a larger party, then you can still use the giblets and roasted bones for stock.

Wondering how to make stock? Check out my recipe here.

Choosing Your Chicken

Like everything else when it comes to food, did you know that chickens have seasons?

The fact you can buy chicken all year round isn’t actually great for us or our planet.

Price is also a huge factor. Cheap chicken equals a terrible life for the chicken previously and a nutritionally poor chicken for you.

Whereas a slow grown chicken that’s been able to live and grow naturally will not have only been happier but the meat will have a better flavour, be leaner and it won’t reduce as much when you cook due to the fact producers do not need to pump their product with water and/or salt.

I will always say buy less meat but higher quality. Become friends with your local butcher and farmer. Get to know where your meat comes from and know that it’s had a great life. It’s worth it.

My Roast Chicken With Rhubarb

Recipe For Simple Roast Chicken

Before you begin, ensure you know your cooking times based on the weight of the bird.

You want 20mins per 450g plus 15 to 20mins extra at the end.

During the cooking time, you want to baste your bird every 25mins or sooner if it’s looking dry. Don’t baste too often as by opening and closing the oven door you’ll lose heat.

When it comes to the optional extras you’ll notice I’ve given rough quantities for the fresh herbs. The reason being is I use loads of fresh herbs when roasting meat because the flavour is brilliant! When I see people using only 1 or 2 sprigs, I often find barely any flavour has transferred.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken with or without giblets
  • 1 to 2 tbsp of olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • Salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Optional but recommended: 1 lemon, 1 garlic bulb, 6(ish) thyme sprigs, 2(ish) rosemary sprigs.

Equipment

  • Oven preheated to 190°C or 180°C Fan
  • Roasting tray or oven dish big enough to hold your chicken
  • Metal spoon or a baster

Let’s Get Roasting!

  1. Put your chicken in your tray and remove any giblets and string.
  2. Drizzle with your oil and massage it in to the bird ensuring everywhere is covered. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Optional but recommended: In the cavity, slice your lemon and garlic in half. Put them, along with your fresh herbs, in to the cavity.
  4. Roast as per the instructions above ensuring you baste at least three times.

Knowing When A Chicken Is Done

Follow these tips so you know when the chicken is ready.

  1. Are the legs wiggling freely if you move them? A perfectly cooked chickens legs will wiggle.
  2. Are the juices running clear? If there’s any blood, it’s not done.
  3. If you love using a meat thermometer, push it in to the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. You’re looking for 75°C.
  4. There shouldn’t be any pinkness in the meat.

Let’s Connect!

Along with the daily journal posts here, each Wednesday at 12pm BST I’ll be going live on my instagram @therebalancechef to recap on the week’s progress and show you around my kitchen. Depending on the weather you might even meet my rescue hens!

The main point of this challenge is to have fun with it, learn new skills and refresh old ones.

I want to see your creations so don’t forget to tag me and show off what you’ve been doing!

I’m taking part in the Rebalance May Cookery Challenge! Check it out here http://www.therebalancechef.co.uk