So last week I had a hell of a hankering for chicken Caesar salad. I decided, therefore, that with the great spring weather we’ve been having, it might be time to make salad for weekday lunches. The most cost-efficient way, it seems, to get a good batch of cooked chicken ready for the fridge, which can then be used with various different meals. I always prefer the brown meat on a chicken for eating cold so I figured a whole chicken would be the best way to go.
You will need:
1 medium to large chicken
A good sized knob of butter
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
1. Take your chicken out of the fridge around an hour before you’re ready to cook it. Half an hour if it’s a hot day. This helps it get to room temperature before cooking so it doesn’t get too much of a shock when you put it in the oven and to make sure your cooking times are as accurate as possible.
2. After about 40 minutes, preheat the oven to 200C and start to prepare your bird for the oven. Pull off your garlic cloves and clean off the worst of the papery skin. Line a roasting tray with foil and skatter the garlic around, bearing in mind that it’s to end up sitting around where the chicken will eventually sit. Chop the onion into sixths or eighths and skatter that around as well, keeping one piece to the side for the cavity.
3. Grate the zest of one of the lemons and place it in a small bowl or ramekin. Half one of the lemons and place it inside the cavity along with the last piece of onion. Quarter the other lemon and place around the side of the tray.
4. Add the seasoning and herbs to the lemon and add in the knob of butter. Carefully mash this around with a fork to distribute the flavourings throughout the butter.
5. Opposite to the cavity, you will find loose skin feed under the bird inside the trussing string. Carefully loosen this out and open it up. Stick your hand inside and carefully separate the skin from the flesh at both sides of the breast with your fingers. You want to loosen this as far as you can fit your hand in, without tearing the skin.
6. Take small amounts of the butter mixture and slide it under the skin at both sides, carefully massaging it up the way through the skin to try to cover the breast, reserving a small amount to rub on the outside. Tuck the skin back into the string and underneath the bird and rub the remaining butter all over the breast and legs. Toss over some more thyme and parsley.
7. Put in the centre of the preheated oven and immediately turn it down to 190C. Cook for 20 minutes then take it out of the oven, turn, and cover the breasts with tin foil. Cook for a further 20 minutes per lb, turning again halfway through before covering the whole tray with foil.
8. Once your timer is up, remove from the oven and allow to rest. If you’re not confident it is fully cooked, stick a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh and ensure the juices run clear. If not, put back in the oven until they do when tested again. Carve if serving, or allow to cool a bit more before carving and picking the carcass.
9. The cooking juices can be used to make a gravy or stock, but i drizzled them over the chicken to help it keep moist and full of flavour. Enjoy!