Roast Chicken With Lemon, Garlic and Thyme
There is something very momentous about a whole roast chicken being bought to the table – it always reminds me of family Sunday lunches. The flavours in this dish are fantastic and really penetrate the flesh of the chicken.
- 1½kg (3lb 4 oz) chicken (preferably free-range or organic)
- 1 lemon
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 75g (3 oz) butter, softened
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 red onions, peeled and halved
- 4 small carrots, peeled
- 1 leek, chopped in half
- 2 celery sticks, chopped in half
- 1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves (but not peeled)
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. plain flour
- 100ml (4 fl oz) white wine
- 600ml (1 pint) chicken or vegetable stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Roast potatoes and buttered peas to serve
Take the chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes in advance. Preheat the oven to 230ºC (450ºF), gas mark 8. Finely grate the zest from the lemon and place it in a bowl, reserving the rest of the lemon. Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks (reserve the stalks) and add to the lemon zest. Mix in the butter and the garlic and then season with salt and pepper.
Loosen the skin from the chicken breasts, starting at the cavity end and working your hand underneath to release it. Spread the garlic butter evenly under the skin and lay the skin back down on top. Slash the chicken legs several times with a sharp knife ( this is to help ensure that the skin crispy up while the chicken cooks).
Place the onions in a roasting tin with the carrots, leek, celery and garlic cloves, tossing to coat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sit the chicken on top of the pile of vegetables and drizzle all over with the remaining olive oil, then season well, rubbing it all over ad right into the slashes.
Cut the reserved lemon in half and put both halves inside the chicken’s cavity with the reserved thyme stalks. Place the chicken in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 200ºC (400ºF), gas mark 6. Roast the chicken for 1 hour 20 minute, basting it halfway through cooking.
When the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and transfer to a board. Put the carrots and red onions on a warmed plate. Cover the chicken and the vegetables with foil and set aside for 15 minutes while you make the gravy.
Using a large spoon, carefully remove most of the fat from the tin and then place the tin directly on the heat. Stir in the four and, holding the tin steady. Mash the remaining vegetables as much as possible with a potato masher to release their juices. Pour the wine into the tin and allow it to bubble, stirring continuously to blend in the flour. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and thickened. Take a large jug and set a sieve above it, then pour in the gravy mixture and push some of the vegetable fibres through with the back of the spoon. Stir in the juices from the resting chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a warmed gravy boat.
Carve the chicken into slices and arrange on warmed plates with the reserved carrots and red onion halves, the roast potatoes and buttered peas. Serve with the gravy.