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This is a basic recipe detailing how to prepare basic roast chicken. The dish is popular worldwide.
- Preheat your oven to 200°C (390°F)
- Rub salt in the cavity of the chicken, then insert the two halves of lemon.
- Rub the chicken skin all over with olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper. Place in a lightly oiled roasting tin.
- Roast for 20 minutes per 450g (1 lb) plus an additional 30 minutes at the end.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
- The chicken will be cooked when the juices run clear after it is removed from the oven. To check this, insert a knife tip into through the thickest part of the thigh and, using the flat of the knife, push against the flesh and look at the juice running out of the thigh.
Techniques to keep the meat moist
A common problem with roasting chicken is dry breast meat. There are numerous techniques to try and avoid this :-
- Always make sure that your chicken is well rested before carving. Resting allows the juices to go back into the flesh thereby moistening the meat.
- Baste the chicken in the fat that runs from it during cooking.
- Put the chicken in the oven breast side down for the first half an hour of cooking, so that the juice in the chicken runs into the breast. However, this will make it difficult to crisp the breast skin.
- Cover the breast with rashers of streaky bacon or pancetta. The fat in the bacon will cook out into the breast meat underneath.
- You can part the skin from the breast meat prior to cooking. Carefully separate the two with your fingers taking care not to tear the skin. Into the gap between the skin you can insert softened butter to keep the meat moist. This butter can be flavoured to impart flavor to the meat using chopped bacon, herbs and other seasonings.
- Slow roast the chicken at 120°C (250°F). This will take much longer, but the meat loses less water when roasted at lower temperatures. Check with a thermometer to see if it is done.
- Some chefs, such as Jacques Pepin, recommend trussing the chicken before roasting so that it roasts evenly. There are several ways to truss a chicken, both with a trussing needle and without.