Nothing beats a roast chicken for sunday dinner. It is easy, delicious and has lots of variations. The problem with roasting a whole chicken is that the breast cooks faster than the legs, causing either dry breast (when cooking the legs to perfection) or raw legs (when cooking the breast to perfection). That is why we usually buy a small roasting chicken (about 1,2 kg). Because they are slaughtered quite young, there is less difference between the meat from the breast and from the legs, bringing the cooking times closer to each other. Also, because the bird is smaller, it roasts more even than the larger ones. I find that this eliminates the breast-leg problem almost completely.
I never rub my chicken with oil or butter before cooking, as most recipes ask you to do. I find that the chicken skin is fatty enough on its own, it doesn’t need extra fat. And it crisps up beautifully, even better than when you slather it with fat. The same with stuffing the cavity with lemon and herbs, I don’t think the flavour comes through in the meat. I just rub the chicken with salt and a herb or spice of choice (lots of variations possible), which makes it a lot faster to prepare the chicken as well. I usually use curry powder as a spice, but the chicken on the photo below is rubbed with barbecue seasoning. You could also use garam masala, ras el hanout or something like Italian herbs, basically anything you fancy. The spices pigment some parts of the skin more than others, giving the skin a patchy appearance; this is completely normal.
A small chicken will serve 2 people very generously (you don’t need much of a side dish in that case, just a little rice and a salad), but alternatively you could also keep some leftovers for lunch the next day (delicious on a sandwich or in a salad) and bulk up the meal with a side dish. With a side dish you could also serve 4 people from the chicken (no leftovers in that case). An nice and easy side dish can be made by adding baby potatoes and veggies (onion, paprika, courgette, mushroom, garlic, etc) to the roasting tray (drizzle with a little oil), they will cook in the same time as the chicken, making it a delicious one pot meal.
Roast chicken (serves 2-4 people)
1 small roasting chicken (about 1,2 kg)
Preheat the oven to 200C. Take the chicken from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
Place the chicken in the roasting tray. Sprinkle salt and herbs/spices on it, and use your hands to rub it in and spread it out all over the chicken.
Place the chicken in the oven, roast for about 1 hour.
Take from the oven and leave to rest for about 10 minutes. Don’t cover it! Otherwise you will ruin the crispy skin.
Carve and serve immediately. Store any leftovers in the fridge.