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If you're raring for a roast, then try out Korin Nolan and Sasha Parker of How to Cook in High Heels's perfect roast chicken recipe
There's nothing quite like a roast dinner to make you feel happy, but it doesn't just have to be a weekend thing. Watch this simple how to video for tips on making a fab roast chicken which isn't a faff to prepare - it's easy enough to do any night of the week. You can find the main steps below, or have a look at the roast chicken recipe.
Picking your bird
It's best to go for a free-range bird, and organic if you can afford it. A small to medium-sized chicken is around one and a half kilos and will feed 4-6 people.
If you plan to make stock, and you're buying from a butcher, try to get a chicken with giblets (you'll be using the neck) and ask your butcher if he has extra carcasses or chicken wings to add to the pot - they shouldn't cost much and they will enrich your stock.
Before you start
Take the chicken and the butter out of the fridge 30 minutes before you start cooking. This will allow the butter to soften and the chicken to come up to room temperature, making it easier to cook.
Preparing the chicken
Mix your softened butter with 3 crushed garlic cloves and a little salt and pepper.
Now on to the chicken: using the tip of a knife, gently separate the skin from the meat at the front cavity of the bird. Continue to work the knife down the length of the breast, making sure you don't break the skin. If you find it easier, you can also loosen the skin with your fingers and then insert the tip of the knife.
Scoop the butter mix up with a teaspoon and place most of it under the skin of the bird. Using the back of the spoon, rub the last bit all over the bird.
Stuff the cavity of the bird with 1 quartered lemon and 6 garlic cloves, then place on top of a sliced red onion in a baking tray.
If you fancy a more bulky stuffing try parsley, lemon and thyme stuffing, gluten and nut-free stuffing or pear and celeriac stuffing. Don't forget to include the weight of the stuffing when you calculate the cooking time.
If you like, you can tie the legs together with string to make sure they don't dry out as you cook the chicken. Find out how to truss a chicken
How to calculate the cooking time for a roast chicken
Cook the bird for twenty minutes per 450g of chicken plus an extra 20 minutes at the end.
How to cook the chicken
Put the bird in a preheated oven at 220°C, fan 200°C, gas mark 7 and cook for 15 minutes to help crisp up the skin. Then, turn the oven down to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas mark 6 for the rest of the cooking time.
How to tell when your roast chicken is done
Pierce the thigh of the bird with a skewer and have a look at the colour of the juices that come out. If they are clear, the bird is ready. If they are still a bit bloody, put the bird back in for a little longer.
Have a rest
When your chicken is cooked through, leave it in a warm place to rest for around 15 minutes. This will help the meat to become extra tender and juicy - you'll really notice the difference. Then serve with the lemon and garlic from inside the bird and the roasted red onion slices on the side. Easy peasy!
Get the full roast chicken recipe
Lining the base of the roasting tray with chopped carrots, celery and shallots or onions will help to give you a tasty gravy. You can also pour in a glass of red or white wine halfway through cooking to make your gravy richer.
When the bird is cooked, take it out of the tray and allow it to rest while you finish the gravy. Put the tray with the rest of its contents onto the hob and cook for a few minutes. Add more wine and seasoning according to taste. Drain the mixture through a sieve and discard the veg.
Skim off the fat floating on the surface with a spoon, then bring your gravy up to the boil, and serve. You can thicken it with a little sieved cornflour if you like, but don't add any gravy browning granules as the gravy should already have enough flavour.
Get Jamie Oliver's gravy recipe
Take a sharp knife and a carving fork to hold the bird in place and a separate warm plate to put your pieces on. You need to get a sense of your chicken, where the joints are and where you are going to be able to cut through easily.
First cut off the wings at the joint closest to the body. Next, cut through the skin above the legs and pull the legs downwards so that you can get to the joints. The legs should detach quite easily. You can then separate the drumsticks and the thighs – again cutting through the joint. To remove the breast, run your knife down either side of the breast bone so that you can get each breast off in one whole piece before cutting into individual portions. Once you've got all the meat off the top of the carcass, flip it over and pull out the 'oysters' - which are located near the thighs.
You can carve a turkey exactly the same way as a chicken, watch turkey farmer Paul Kelly show you how to roast and carve a turkey.
Making stock with the leftover bones
If you bought some extra carcasses or wings from your butcher, roast them in the oven at around 200°C for 20 minutes along with the bird's neck (this should have come with the giblets).
Then put them in a stockpot along with the roasted chicken's carcass and any bones you swiped off your diners' plates. Add a roughly chopped onion, carrot, celery stick, some parsley stalks a bay leaf and a few peppercorns, then fill the pan with cold water till the ingredients are just covered. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat right down and let your stock simmer for up to three hours till the bones are brittle and the liquid is slightly thickened.
Strain it through a fine sieve or muslin and leave to cool. Before using it, just scoop off the fat and you're ready to get cooking.
Watch Gordon Ramsay's how to make chicken stock video
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