A perfect roast chicken is a splendid thing. After 20 years of professional cooking my philosophy is – buy good ingredients, cook them properly and don’t muck about with too many extra flavours. In no dish is this more true than roast chicken. We love this so much in the Nairn household that we roast a chicken nearly every week.
Preparation time: 1 hour 40 minutes: Serves: 4
Ingredients for roast chicken
- 3 kg (3 lb) free-range or organic chicken
- freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1-2 bay leaves
- olive oil
- 4 large floury potatoes
- 8 parsnips
- vegetable oil, dripping or goose or duck fat
- a glass of white wine
- ½ chicken stock cube, dissolved in 150 ml (1/4 pint) boiling water
- steamed broccoli, to serve
How to make roast chicken
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Untruss the chicken and let it come to cool room temperature before cooking. Feel inside the cavity between the legs and pull out any large pieces of fat still clinging to the insides. Season the cavity with salt and pepper and tuck in the thyme and bay leaves. Rub the outside of the chicken all over with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Slash down through the skin between the legs and the main body of the bird so that the legs go floppy. This ensures even cooking. Sit the chicken in a roasting tin and pour in a bit more olive oil, but not too much. Roast on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and parboil them in a large pan of boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes if large, 8-10 if smaller. Peel and trim the parsnips and cut them in half or in long quarters if very large. Set aside. Drain the potatoes well, then use a fork to roughen the outside of each potato to ensure a crunchy crust.
- Pour a thin layer of vegetable oil or melt a couple of large tablespoons of dripping or fat in another roasting tin on top of the stove until smoking hot. Carefully add the potatoes, turning them in the oil or fat to coat. Make sure the fat heats up again.
- Open the oven door, remove the chicken and baste it with the juices in the tin. Add the parsnips to the tin, turning them in the pan juices, Return the tin to the oven and bung the potatoes on the highest shelf over the chicken. Roast for another 40 minutes, basting everything occasionally and turning the potatoes at least once during cooking. When everything is looking golden brown, pierce the chicken in the thickest part of a leg with a skewer or small sharp knife to see if it is cooked and the juices run clear. If so, remove the chicken from the tin and set it on a warm plate, covered loosely with a piece of foil, to rest for 10 minutes.
- Tip the excess fat out of the pan, return the tin to the oven and let the parsnips crisp up for 10 minutes. Remove the parsnips and potatoes from the oven. Turn the oven off. Lift the potatoes out of the tin with a slotted spoon into a warm serving dish and do likewise with the parsnips; keep it warm in the oven with the door propped open.
- Now make the gravy. Set the chicken roasting tin on the heat, and add the wine and stock. Bring to the boil and boil furiously for 2-3 minutes, scraping up all the sticky bits from the bottom of the tin. Taste and season very well. Tip any juices that have flowed out of the chicken into the gravy, then strain into a warm jug or gravy boat.
- Serve the roast chicken immediately, with the potatoes, onion, parsnips and some steamed broccoli. I hope you enjoy this Roast Chicken recipe.