How to make the perfect roast chicken
These foolproof tips from Silvana Franco will help you make your roast chicken look and taste truly beautiful.
- An average-size chicken weighs about 1.5kg and will feed 4 people. If you’re cooking for 5 or 6, go for a 1.8kg-2kg bird. Do buy the best you can – preferably free-range and organic. Slow-grown birds have more flavour, and produce a much better cooked result, without taking welfare issues into account. Corn-fed chickens aren’t any higher in welfare – they’re just fed a fattier diet, and so the bird is also more fatty.
- You can roast your chicken two ways. If you want really crispy skin, heat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC/gas 6. Rub the chicken with olive or sunflower oil, season with plenty of salt, and untruss it (cut the string and pull the legs out – this will help it to crisp). Place in a roasting tin and cook for 25 minutes, then turn the oven down to 170ºC/150ºc fan/gas 3½ and cook for a further 40-55 minutes depending on size. If you’d prefer a simpler version, prepare the bird the same way, but just roast it at 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas 4 for the full time. As long as you let the chicken rest properly after cooking, there’s no need to faff with turning it upside down etc.
- The chicken is done when a digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 65-70ºC, or when a skewer insert into the same place comes out piping hot when touched to the back of your wrist, and the juices run clear (be aware though, that slow grown birds can have darker juices, so for perfect results it’s best to use a digital thermometer).
- Once the chicken is cooked, it’s really important to let it rest properly – this is the way to ensure perfectly moist, tender meat. Leave it for a minimum of 15 minutes somewhere away from drafts (there’s no need to cover it), or up to 30 minutes, which is best. The internal temperature will continue to rise a few degrees while it rests, so don’t worry that you’ve undercooked it – chances are it will be perfect when you carve.
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