Roast Chicken

“How do you roast a chicken?” is the question food writers are most frequently asked. Considering the little cluckers have featured in our diet for so many years, you’d think people would know. My answer always starts with “first buy your chicken”, for the quality of the bird is the biggest factor in determining whether you dine on succulent fowl or blotting paper. I don’t eat battery birds, I buy from my local butcher – and I know where he gets them so the ‘free range’ appellation is no con. Sure, I pay a bit more but so what, a e10 free-ranger yields six decent portions, leaving enough on the carcass for a nourishing soup. For years I whacked the oven up high – 240°C/gas 9, stuck a knob of butter and an onion inside, rubbed the skin with sea salt and stopped the clock on 70 minutes. It worked just fine. But then I took a holiday in Tuscany…
Now I preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6, chop up a lemon and stuff it inside along with a couple of sprigs of rosemary and two cloves of garlic, unpeeled cos life’s too short for peeling garlic. I rub sea salt and black pepper on the skin, truss the bird with string and roast for 90 minutes. I’m lucky enough to have a rotisserie, but it works equally well on a rack in a conventional oven. The Italians call it pollo al’limone e rosmarino. I call it tasty.