What’s better for a comforting dinner than roasted chicken? I love them, and with just the two of us we can usually get 4 meals out of one bird. For a classic like this, I always turn to Nigel Slater for guidance. His treatment of food is just right--good ingredients, not too much fussing.
I always start with a free-range chicken, for a lot of reasons, but one added benefit is that the drumsticks are really big. My husband is a drumstick guy, and he loves the longer legs on free-range birds. The bones are a lot stronger as well, and I think the stock they make has more flavor.
This guy weighed 1.25 kilos, or about 2.5 pounds. I plunked him in an oval dish and rubbed him all over with olive oil. I cut up a lemon and squeezed the juice over him, and put the squeezed lemon half inside him, along with several cloves of garlic. I put 4 or 5 garlic cloves and a couple of shallots around him in the pan. I cut up some potatoes and put them around him as well. Then I sprinkled the whole lot with a little salt, some pepper and some dried rosemary. If I’d had some nice thyme I’d have used that too. I poured about a half a cup of water around him (you could use white wine) and put him in a hot oven (200 C / 400 F) for an hour and 20 minutes. Nigel’s rule of thumb is 20 minutes for each 500 g / pound plus an extra 30 minutes. This always works out just right for me.
During that time, I checked to make sure that the pan wasn’t dry, and basted him a little bit. That’s all. Et VOILA! The potatoes were roasted and crunchy, the chicken was perfectly done and juicy, and there was a gorgeous sauce in the bottom of the dish. Just let him rest for a few minutes before you carve him. I know, it’s hard, but trust me--it makes a difference!
This is exactly the same way I roast my turkey for thanksgiving, or game hens for a fancier dinner. 20 minutes per pound/500 g plus an extra 30 minutes.
This goes veryvery well with Fancy Pants Potatoes and a little salad.
- I sometimes use butter instead of olive oil at the beginning, and shove a little bit under the skin of the breast. This makes him brown a little more, and makes for a richer sauce.
- Carrots, parsnips and onions are good roasted in the pan along with the potatoes. Or instead of them.
- If you don’t do potatoes in the pan, this is splendid with truffle mashed potatoes: just boil some potatoes, mash them with some butter and a little milk or cream. Add some grated pecorino cheese with truffles. YUM!