Oh no! Not another post about roast chicken, you say. Oh yes, I reply!
This is about how to get a lovely moist chicken with a crisp golden skin, and a lovely flavoursome gravy from the pan juices.
You will need;
1 free-range chicken
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
1 onion, sliced into rings
fresh thyme, rosemary and bay leaves (dried are OK, but fresh are better)
You layer the bottom of a hob-proof roasting pan with the carrot, onion and herbs, which you season with salt and pepper and moisten with a little olive oil. On top of this you place your chicken. Under the skin of the breast you need to push some butter, massaging it out a bit. Then you dribble olive oil over the skin of the chicken and season it with more salt and pepper.
Preheat your oven to 200C and put the chicken into the oven, breast side up, for 15 minutes. Then, turn the bird over so that the backbone is uppermost and pour in enough boiled water to cover the vegetables. There is no point using wine for this because most of it will evaporate and you will be adding wine to the gravy at the end anyway. Turn the heat down to 180C (170C in a fan oven) and roast for 30 minutes before turning the bird over again and roasting it until the skin is crisp and golden over the breast. Try to make sure that all the water doesn’t dry out, because the carrots and onions will burn and taste bitter.
Then, check to see that the bird is cooked by stabbing it with a skewer to make sure that the juices run clear. If not, return it to the oven for another 10 minutes and test again.
Leave the chicken to rest under a foil tent while you make the gravy on the hob.
Drain off most of the surplus oil, which you can save and use to cook something else, maybe a risotto, because it will have a lovely chicken richness. heat up the pan on the hob, pour in a large glass of white wine (or maybe sherry, Madeira, Marsala, white vermouth or even cider) to deglaze the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon, to loosen up all the sticky chicken cooking juices on the bottom. Then, add some more boiled water and cook for 5 minutes so that everything comes together to make a nice stock.
Now, strain all the liquid off into a saucepan, discarding the veg etc in the roasting tin, and whisk in some beurre manié to thicken the gravy. Alternately, you could thicken the gravy with some cornflour and water paste for a less rich and slightly lower-fat version.
Then, carve and serve the chicken with vegetables of your choice.