A good quality free range chicken, 3 large onions, chilli, garlic, Olive oil, salt & pepper, two large lemons, bacon rashers (heavy backed & smoked), good quality butter.
Ok, cooking a chicken is pretty difficult to get wrong, as long as you follow a few certain rules. Secondly, everyone has there own preference, so this is ‘my’ perfect roast chicken, but you can adjust the chilli & garlic as you see fit, and finally, do yourself a flavour & pick a decent chicken. If you are going to roast a chicken, spend a decent amount of cash & buy a quality chicken, it makes so much difference, and we need to respect the chicken. RESPECT IT.
Firstly, get your oven on to about Gas Mark 7 or 220, and get it pre-heated, you can leave it with the door closed getting all hot & cosy for that chicken your about to lovingly prepare.
Think about hygiene will you!? Dont use wooden chopping boards or anything pourous, use marble or slate or granite surfaces ideally, and wash your hands, and ensure you dont mix up your utensils with whatever you touch the chicken with.
Firstly, make a compound butter. Get a bowl, drop in enough butter to smother the chicken (use your judgement, I’m not your mother). In that bowl, season with a slight amount of salt & pepper, and in it, I like to mix in some chopped garlic, chopped chilli, & a little Olive oil to soften it right up & squeeze over some lemon juice. Cover in clingfilm, and leave at room temperature (or refrigerate if your going to be messing around for a few hours).
Now, take your chicken, remove the giblets and save (making good gravy is another recipe coming soon) and wash your meat. Wash it good. (clean your taps afterward, you dont want raw poultry juice all over your kitchen after you’ve touched everything – I’m serious). Pat that meat dry with a paper towel, and place it on a board.
Get a really good quality knife, (whatever your comfortable with) & starting at the top of the breast, either side, open up the skin so you create in effect, pockets which you can stick your fingers in, and get at the chicken meat.
At this point, boil a pan of water, and once at a rolling boil, pop in one of the lemons and leave to simmer for about ten minutes.
Get your compound butter and push it into those cavities you’ve created, you want the butter to sit between the skin & the meat, and push that butter deep into the chicken, and around its body, under the skin. Once you’ve done that, use the remaining compound butter to smother all over the body of the chicken, in between the legs, on the underside, really get it covered. It’ll act as a surface glue, to what’s coming next
Season well with salt & pepper. drizzle in olive oil. You should have a beautiful buttered up smothered well seasoned chicken.
Meanwhile, take that boiled lemon from its pan of water, set it to one side. Prick it a few times with a knife to let the steam escape, and stick it in the arsehole of the chicken. This is going to get the internal temprature of the chicken rising, whilst perfuming the meat at the same time. Meanwhile, the lemon you used earlier, (to squeeze over your compound butter), slice up and slide under the skin of the chicken cavities you made, when you were filling it up with garlic & chilli butter.
Score the chicken legs with a knife, this will help get the butter into those parts & also help them cook properley.
Finally, cover in bacon & give it a little final drizzle of olive oil.
In the pan you choose to roast the chicken, take those large onions, cut them up chunky and sit them in the pan. Sit the chicken on top of these onions in effect, using them as a trivet. Not only will heat circulate under the bottom of the chicken, the juices will mix with the onion, which will cook & camerelise, and make a great base for gravy.
Whack it in the oven, following the weight to time ratio of whatever particular sized chicken you have, until cooked to perfection. You will have to modify this recipe if for example, you’ve picked a massive chicken, you may not want to add the bacon until the remaining half hour of cooking. The idea is the bacon cooks to a crisp, whilst protecting the delicate chicken.
A word on stuffing. I dont care what your mum or grandma says, stuffing chicken is a complete NO NO. Your in effect, by stuffing with anything but what I’ve recommended in regards to a lemon, affecting cooking time, and keeping the tempreture of the chicken low, and also, contaminating the stuffing & probably undercooking it. If you must stuff a chicken, use the neck end, and not the arse end. Take this seriously, I’m an Italian, do not stuff your chicken.
What you will have is the best chicken ever. Seriously, Let it rest, cover it with foil, your chicken doesnt have to be piping hot when you eat it. You want the flavours to mellow, but please, when you bring it out the oven use a temprature probe to ensure the internal temprature is above 75 degree’s. Check the legs too!