Belinda's top tips on how to cook the perfect roast chicken
Nothing makes a more satisfying and delicious meal than a perfectly roasted chicken – it’s a dish that’s versatile, surprisingly straightforward to prepare and triggers feel-good memories of leisurely Sunday lunches shared with family. There are a number of ways in which I serve roast chicken, but nothing beats keeping it simple – a whole Sutton Hoo chicken, generously slathered in butter or olive oil, served with vegetables and roast potatoes in winter or crusty bread and salad in summer.
I always roast my chicken with either a whole lemon or onion in its cavity to add flavour. When time allows, I also brine my chicken – this gives it a rich, salted flavour and keeps it deliciously moist and tender while it cooks. Different sources will tell you a variety of different things about how long to roast a chicken for, but I keep mine in the oven for 15 minutes per 450g of weight, plus an extra 20 minutes, in a preheated oven at 180°c/350°F (gas mark 4).
Having enjoyed a fair few roast chickens over the years, I have come up with some simple tips for perfecting your roast:
1. Don’t put your chicken in the oven straight from the fridge – allow the bird to sit and come to room temperature first.
2. Ensure that your chicken does not go in the oven wet. Have it uncovered in the fridge for a few hours before cooking to let the skin dry.
3. Always place your chicken in a relatively fitted tin. If there’s too much room around the bird, the juices could burn.
4. Once your chicken is cooked, let it rest on the side for about 15 minutes before carving.
5. For a simple and delicious roast chicken, rub butter (or olive oil) over the breast and legs and season generously with salt and black pepper.