Everyone loves a roast chicken dinner, especially in the cooler months. Tender chicken with crispy brown skin, roast potatoes and kumara, fresh green vegetables… How could anyone say no?

If you’ve never roasted a chicken before the task might seem overwhelming – there’s so much food to deal with! The truth is, once you learn how to roast a chicken, making this meal is very simple. The secret is in the timing, getting everything ready at the same time, and once you master this you’ve got it cracked.

Preparing the Chicken

If you are using a frozen chicken allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight. Make sure you place it in a large bowl so that it doesn’t drip.

Some chickens come with a small bag of giblets inside – remove these and discard.

Rinse your chicken thoroughly, inside and out, under cold running water. Pat dry with kitchen towel.

You may have seen recipes that require you to “truss” your chicken i.e. to tie its legs together with string. It doesn’t hurt to do this and it helps the chicken keep its shape, but it’s really not necessary. In fact, an untrussed chicken will cook faster and more evenly.

Seasoning Your Chicken

A roast chicken dinner is a collection of simple, but delicious flavours. It is the combination of these flavours that makes it special, rather than the characteristics of any one ingredient, so you don’t have to get too fancy with the seasoning of your bird.

Simply rub a little olive oil over the bottom of a roasting pan, place your chicken in the pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with plenty of fresh-ground black pepper and a little salt and you’re ready to go.

If you do want to go a little further, you can place a whole lemon and a few sprigs of herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage or tarragon in the cavity of the chicken. Stabbing the lemon a few times with the point of a knife will help it release its flavour.

Cooking Time for Roast Chicken

Preheat your oven to 180˚C and cook your chicken for 30 minutes per 500 grams of weight.

Every 20 minutes or so take your chicken out of the oven and baste it with the juices that have collected in the tray.

Roast Vegetables

This is where timing comes in. Potatoes will take at least 45 minutes to roast, kumara a little less. So, when your chicken only has three-quarters of an hour left to cook, pop your potatoes and kumara into the roasting tray around the chicken, making sure to coat them in the roasting juices.

Want to make things even simpler? Unless you are roasting a very large chicken you can put your potatoes in right at the start – it won’t hurt them to cook for an hour or more. If they start to look too cooked, just take them out of the roasting pan and place in an oven-proof dish on the lowest shelf in the oven.

Is the Chicken Ready?

When the cooking time has elapsed, take your chicken out of the oven and check that it is cooked by inserting a skewer or knife into the thickest part of the thigh – the juices should run clear. If they look pink, return the chicken to the oven and cook a little longer.

Resting the Bird

When your chicken is cooked put it on a plate, cover it loosely with foil and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes. The “resting” period allows the flesh to relax and makes the bird easier to carve and more succulent.

Green Vegetables and Gravy

Most green vegetables will take no more than ten minutes to cook, so put these on when you take your chicken out of the oven. By the time it’s finished resting your vegetables will be done.

Make your gravy during the resting period as well.

A Successful Roast Chicken Dinner

By using good quality, fresh ingredients and by following the tips above on how to roast a chicken you’ll server up a successful roast dinner every time.

For a more complex way of roasting a chicken check out this video.

How to Roast a Chicken, 4.3 out of 5 based on 8 ratings

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