There are lots of recipes from all the experts on the Perfect Roast chicken – Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith, Martha Stewart and so on. So maybe I’m being a bit foolhardy taking on the Big Guns here, but I can confidently say that roast chicken is one of my specialties, and anyone who’s been round to mine for a chicken dinner will agree…

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The lovely buttery moist texture and mild flavours go really well with a South African chardonnay.  I served a Drostdy-Hof last week and that went down really well.

Ingredients for four people:

1 x approximately 1.6kg chicken, preferably free-range or organic.

1 medium onion

1 bulb of garlic

Two slices of wholemeal bread

Half a lemon

A handful of fresh thyme

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper

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For the gravy

Juices from the chicken

2 tablespoons of plain flour

A litre of chicken stock

Sherry

 

Cooking the Roast

Preparation time: 10 mins, Cooking time: 1hr 20mins, Rest for 20 mins.

Turn on the oven –  200°C/400°F/gas 6

Remove all the string binding the chicken together, wash the chicken and pat it dry with kitchen paper.

In a blender mix all the stuffing ingredients together – bread, thyme, onions, garlic, salt and pepper.

Put the half-lemon into the chicken’s cavity and then spoon in the stuffing – until you can’t fit any more in.

Place the chicken on a roasting tray and rub olive oil over it and season it.

Pop it in the oven for an hour and twenty minutes.  (Roast for 20 minutes per lb (450 g) plus 10-20 minutes extra).  Check it a few times and see if it needs basting.

When the bird is cooked you should take it out of the oven and cover it in tin foil and leave to rest for around 15-20 minutes.

Making the Gravy

This, in my view, is indispensable.  It’s so easy to make from scratch so don’t be tempted to cheat.

Pour the juices from the chicken into a non-stick saucepan and add a knob of butter.  Don’t be afraid to scrape in any bits of chicken or if you had veg in with the chicken add any bits in too.  Bring to the boil and then take off the heat to stir in the flour.  Make sure the flour is totally mixed in (no lumps) – it should be a thick paste (roux) and then put back on the heat.

Gradually add the stock, stirring the whole time, so the liquid is an even texture and add in the sherry for flavour.

Serving

Carving a chicken can be intimidating for many people, I just go for it with gusto and enthusiasm and it’s usually fine, but if you want to perfect the art of chicken carving, then watch this video.

Serve with roast potatoes or gratin dauphinois, peas, carrots, sprouts, French beans… whatever takes your fancy.

With lashings of gravy.

And a glass of chilled Drostdy-Hof Chardonnay – a great match that is really widely available and reasonably priced.

Tips

If you are roasting veg with the chicken – throw in a bulb of garlic with the tips cut off – it softens and sweetens as it is roasted and is delicious with roast potatoes.

You can never have too much gravy (in my opinion) so really go for it and make as much as you can out of the juices – you can always freeze the leftovers.

Throw the chicken leftovers and carcass into a big saucepan with some diced carrots, onions, peppercorns, celery and bay leaves and simmer for twenty minutes.  Drain immediately and you have a lovely stock for your next batch of gravy or soup.