Roast chicken with lemon herb butter, cooked until crisp on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. This simple recipe shows to how easy it is to make roast chicken for your Sunday dinner with minimal fuss and maximum flavour.
String (for tying herbs together and for tying together chicken legs)
Large roasting tin
For the lemon herb butter:
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
3Sprigs fresh thyme(leaves removed from stems)
For the chicken:
Salt and pepper
Root veggies roughly chopped
(Carrots, onions - to sit the chicken on in the tray )
Pre heat the oven to 190°C (Fan) / 375°F.
To make the lemon herb butter:
Start by preparing the herb butter by mashing 50g of softened butter with 2 cloves of minced garlic, the juice and zest of half a lemon and fresh leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme. Set to one side. NOTE: Mash together using a fork. TIP: mince the garlic by chopping finely, then add a pinch of sea salt and scrape the knife over the garlic and salt to create a garlic paste.
Prepare the chicken:
Remove and discard any packaging from the chicken. If you have bought the chicken from your butchers check the cavity for the giblets. Remove and discard the giblets or if you prefer: use to make gravy.
If the legs are tied together, un-tie and open up to see inside the cavity. To add extra flavour during cooking, ingredients can be added to the cavity. Place half a lemon, half a garlic bulb inside the cavity. Next take 2 sprigs of rosemary, together with 3 sprigs of thyme and wrap 2 bay leaves around the sprigs. Secure the bunch of fresh herbs by wrapping and tying with string. Add the bunch of herbs to the cavity along with the lemon and garlic.
Next, take the lemon herb butter that you prepared earlier and use the back of a spoon to spread the butter all over the surface of the chicken skin. Make sure to spread over the legs and wings as well.
Once the butter is evenly spread, bring the legs back together to close the entrance to the cavity and tie with string.
Roughly chop up some root vegetables to sit in the base of the roasting tin to act as a rack for the chicken. I used carrot and onions. Then carefully transfer the prepared chicken onto the vegetable rack.
Roasting the chicken:
Place the roasting tin into the centre of the preheated oven and cook according to the weight of the bird: Cook for approximately 20 minutes per lb or per 500g, plus an extra 20 minutes after this. So a 1.5kg chicken should be roasted for 1 hour 20 minutes. A 2kg chicken should be roasted for 1 hour 40 minutes.
Check the chicken at least once (ideally 2 or 3 times) during cooking and baste (spoon juices back over the skin).
The chicken shouldn't need to be covered with foil as the veg rack and butter will help to keep the meat moist. However, if the skin looks like it might be burning at any point, pop over a bit of foil. Check the chicken is cooked by inserting a skewer into the breast - the juices should run out clear. Alternatively insert a meat thermometer into the breast. The temperature on the thermometer should reach at least 75°C / 165°F.
If the chicken appears under cooked place back in the oven for 10 minute intervals until cooked. If you are satisfied that the chicken is thoroughly cooked, cover with foil and then a tea towel (to keep the heat in) and rest for around 10 minutes. You can use this time to dish up the rest of your Sunday roast.
After the chicken is well rested, remove the foil and transfer the chicken to a carving board. Carve with a sharp knife and serve.
Do you cover a chicken to roast it?
You can cover a chicken with foil at the start of cooking, for around 20 minutes. However, this is not necessary with this recipe as the herb butter and vegetable rack will help to keep the meat from drying out. I roasted a 1.5kg for 1 hour 20 minutes without covering, which allowed for the skin to turn to a lovely golden brown colour. However, its best to keep an eye on the chicken and if it looks like it might burn, pop over a bit of foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
How do you know when a chicken is cooked?
A chicken is cooked when the juices run clear. To check this, insert a skewer into the the side of the chicken breast and watch as the juices run out. Alternatively you can use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the centre of the chicken breast, you should be looking for the thermometer to reach 75°C / 165°F.
Can chicken still be a little pink after cooking?
Yes chicken can still be a little pink after cooking, usually around the more bony areas. Colour is not necessarily and indication of how well cooked the meat is. However, chicken breast meat should not still be pink after cooking. Chicken meat closer to the bone tends to be a little pinker or darker in colour compared to the breast meat. Make sure that you follow the above advice for checking that the chicken is cooked and if still unsure follow these tips for cooking your food.
Can roast chicken be reheated?
Reheating chicken is always a cause for concern and great caution should always be taken. In order for leftover roast chicken to be used in a second meal and reheated, it must be stored correctly. First make sure the meat has fully cooled. As soon as its cooled remove all the meat from the bone and discard the carcass. Do not allow the cooled meat to sit out on the side for a long period time before thinking about doing anything with it. Place the cooled meat into a sealable container or onto a plate. Seal with a lid or wrap well with cling film and place in the fridge. The chicken should be used within 24 hours. If you want to eat the meat just as it is I recommend you eat this cold straight from the fridge - the dry meat tends not to reheat very well. However, you can also add the refrigerated chicken meat to soups, stews, curries or risottos and simmer until piping hot.