The weekend food shop is a biggie this week as we are stuck at home saving money for our hols in August. In total, that’s seven home-prepared meals from Friday night to Sunday night, including, of course, the big Sunday Roast.
It’s roast chicken this week, it takes minimal preparation, most people love roast chicken, and has the least number of ways in which things can go horribly wrong. With this way of cooking a chicken below, even a standard supermarket bird can be tasty, tender and moist. Preparing the chook takes less than five minutes and it does not involve any temperature adjusting, fussing or trussing on the cook’s part.
Ingredients for Relaxed Roast Chicken:
- Fresh or completely defrosted whole Chicken (see weights further down), with any elastic trussing string, packs or loose giblets and kidneys from the cavity removed. The kidneys, browny squidgy things, are sometimes lingering stuck on at the back of the cavity and you can scoop them away with a spoon or your fingers.
- A fresh Lemon, cut into half or into quarters if very large
- Two or three small Onions (Shallots), or half of a medium-sized onion, peeled and either halved or quartered depending on size
- 1 large or 2 small cloves of Garlic, peeled and very lightly crushed with the back of a spoon
- Couple of teaspoons of dried Mixed Herbs, Thyme or Herbes de Provence
- Dessertspoon of Olive Oil, or use a couple of knobs of Butter if preferred
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven, 20 minutes or so should do it. Temperatures may already be printed on the packaging, but my general rule is roast chicken is cooked at Gas Mark 5, 190 degrees C or 375 degrees F.
If you have not pre-heated the oven, it is not a disaster, but the chicken may take an extra 15-20mins or more to cook through. Do not wash your chicken first, as it potentially spreads germs right around the kitchen–here are GoodHousekeeping’s views and explanation on this.
Place the lemon halves or quarters inside the empty chicken cavity, along with the onion and garlic clove. This adds steamy, fragrant moisture from the inside out when cooking, so that the meat does not dry out. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Drizzle and rub olive oil or butter by hand over the outer skin. Grind over some salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the herbs. That’s it, ready to cook!
Cooking Times for Roast Chicken:
There are a LOT of mixed up, wrongly converted timings and temperatures for cooking chicken on the web, one of which is potentially so dangerous I emailed the site. It wasn’t even an amateur blog, which you could kinda forgive, it was one of those conglomerate recipe resources. So, did they bother to reply? What do you think? There ought to be a law against it. Or at least someone you can complain to.
There are also lots of variations on a basic roast out there too, this blog article in the Guardian newspaper tested many different recipes: cooking at a higher temperature first or not; pumping up the temperature towards the end; blah blah, covering the bird with foil; uncovering at a certain time etc, turning it on its side for half the time… Of course all these ideas can produce nice results, but they are not strictly necessary and just mean more work and more of the cook’s attention. The simplest, easiest and safest timing for the entire cooking period is this:
20 minutes per per 450g (or per lb) plus 15 to 20 minutes
@ 190 degrees Celsius or 375 degrees Farenheit
A 3lb (1.4kg) chicken will serve 2-3, and take 3 x 20 mins + 20 mins to cook
80 mins total = 1 hour 20mins
A 5lb (2.3kg) chicken will serve 5-6, and take 5 x 20 mins + 20 mins to cook
120 mins total = 2 hours
Or use the wrapper instructions. These timings and temperatures have been used by me for years, and I have checked them against trusted published sources like Delia Smith, with supermarket recipe sites like Waitrose and I checked too with Tesco’s very handy roasting chart. Finally, I looked at the UK government’s Food Standards Agency which is a really valuable resource. So, while Hampshirecook might be just another amateur cooking blog, its going to be a jolly well-researched amateur blog.
The cooked bird also needs to rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving, with a kitchen foil cover to keep in the heat, so I add that on to my “target” dishing-up time.
Ovens vary, timers run slow/fast and on freezing cold days in an unheated kitchen it can take rather a long time for an oven to crank itself up to temperature. I really do quick-check to make sure that the juices run clear from the thickest part of the leg before I decide its done. There should be no pinkness at all.
On basting, it is not necessary to baste multiple times, basting at least once half-way through the cooking time can be enough. Usually I aim for twice, but if too rushed to manage, it doesn’t matter. I rotate the roasting pan around by a half-turn after basting to make double-sure the chicken gets an even cook.
Now that just leaves the veg, the gravy and the stuffing…