Roast chicken and roast potatoes

Roast chicken and roast potatoes
  • Chicken
  • Olive oil and sunflower oil
  • Potatoes
  • Chicken stock if you have it
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Butter, plain flour, salt

Set oven to 170 fan. Wash the chicken and pat dry. Put some lemon inside – a whole one chopped in four, or just some left over bits. It’s just to keep the inside moist and give a bit of flavour – mainly from the peel.

Put it in a roasting dish without the rack and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and rub it in with your hands. Then use the rack thing (if you have one) inside the tray and put the chicken on it with the back facing up. That way the skin on the back will get a bit crispy.

The pack of chicken will normally say how long to cook it for – a medium chicken is about an hour and a half. Put it in the oven when it’s got to 170 degrees.

Then start on the potatoes. First put a baking tray or dish in the 170 degrees oven to heat up (the bigger the tray the better, ideally the potatoes should not be touching each other – the photo above is of two trayfuls combined for serving…). Then peel the potatoes and cut into medium chunks. Put them in a pan of already-boiling salted water and boil for about 8-10 mins. Then drain and add some oil – a light oil like sunflower is best, though add a little olive or goose fat for flavour if you like. Add more salt at this stage too. Shake the pan hard up and down (with the lid on) to fluff up the outsides of the potatoes so that they soak up the oil. Tip into the tray and then turn them so that each one is sitting on a curved side – that way they won’t stick so much and will be easier to turn over. They will need about 45 mins to cook at 170 degrees. Over-cooking is better than under. Take the tray out once or twice in that time to gently turn the pieces over.

If you are doing other roast vegetables (parsnip, celeriac, carrot, shallots, onions) they are likely to need about an hour of cooking time so you could go straight on to preparing them and put them in too.

After about 45 mins since you put the chicken in (or half your cooking time), take out the chicken, turn it over, and baste it by pouring some of the juices over to moisten the skin. A turkey baster syringe thing is really helpful, but it can be done with a spoon. Also take out the potatoes and turn them over. This is also a good time to add in some extras like garlic cloves and rosemary.

You can baste the chicken a couple more times, but don’t turn it over again. Also turn the potatoes maybe once.

Ten minutes before the chicken is going to be ready you can turn on some top heat, if your oven does that – this will make the skin really crispy. If you are going to do this it is best to drain all the juices out of the tray first (use the baster if you have one) otherwise it will spit horribly and make your oven dirty.

To make gravy, the easiest thing is to defrost a little chicken stock from last time you had chicken. Melt a little butter and add a tablespoon of flour, let it heat and then add the stock as if you were making white sauce. You can also use some juices from the chicken but try not to use the fat as it is just too much. Add salt and pepper and maybe a little white wine.

Nice with green veg or frozen peas.

Aftercare: it’s worth giving the oven a quick clean the next day, as otherwise the fat will burn on and make it harder in the long term… Hopefully you put the chicken carcass in the fridge overnight – and all the bones off people’s plates. Pick all the remaining meat off the bones and put back in the fridge. Put everything else in a big pot of water and simmer for a couple of hours. If you have any bits and pieces of raw veg in the fridge which need using cut them up and put them in as well to add to the flavour of the stock. You can use leftover cooked veg too but not the potatoes as they just make the stock go cloudy. Herbs are good. Then allow to cool and drain off the stock into bags or pots for freezing – and keep some out for risotto if you plan to make that soon. I sometimes do a second boiling but that’s a bit over the top. All the bones and leftover veg go in the bin.