Whole free-range chicken
£16.40 – £22.55
Nothing beats the enticing aroma of roast chicken, and these free-range birds are the best we’ve found – succulent and full of good old-fashioned flavour. The birds spend their days foraging in grassy fields, growing slowly and naturally to full maturity so they’re a generous size and there’s plenty of rich-tasting breast and leg meat to go round. Better still, they develop a good layer of fat in the skin, which really boosts the flavour and helps baste the bird as it cooks. We reckon you really can taste the difference. See below for our roasting timings and tips.
How to roast your bird
It’s hard to go wrong when roasting chicken: simply sprinkling it with salt and pepper and popping it in the oven for the requisite time will satisfy all comers and fill your kitchen with irresistible aromas. That said, we’ve developed our own method of roasting chicken that imbues the meat with a fresh, herby flavour and guarantees the breast is always juicily succulent.
- Like all meats, starting your chicken at room temperature will ensure it cooks evenly, so take it out of the fridge about half an hour before you’re ready to begin cooking.
- Never wash chicken: bacteria that can cause food poisoning exist naturally on the meat and can easily be splashed on to your kitchen work tops. Rest assured the bacteria will be killed off when it’s properly cooked. Do ALWAYS wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling raw poultry.
- Preheat the oven to 220˚C/fan 200˚C/gas 7*.
- Place half a lemon or a small peeled onion in the body cavity, and add a handful of fresh herbs: thyme, bay and rosemary work particularly well. We prefer to cook any stuffing separately in a tray. But if you want to stuff your bird, pack the neck end only, so hot air can still circulate in the cavity and cook the bird evenly. And remember: if you stuff your chicken you’ll need to calculate your cooking time based on the weight of the stuffed bird.
- Choose a deep-sided roasting pan big enough to hold the chicken comfortably and add water, stock or white wine to a depth of 12mm (½in). This helps keep the air moist and ensures the meat stays succulent.
- Put the chicken in the liquid breast-side down. Cover the bird with foil, then place the pan in the hot oven. • Cook for 20 minutes, then remove the chicken from the oven, take off the foil and turn the bird breast-side up.
- Lower the oven temperature to 200˚C/fan 180˚C/gas 6 and return the chicken to the oven to finish cooking. To calculate the rest of the cooking time, allow 45 minutes per kg, on top of the initial 20 minutes. So our 1.6kg chickens will need a further 72 minutes; our 1.8kg chicken a further 81 minutes; our 2kg chickens a further 90 minutes; and our 2.2kg chickens a further 99 minutes.
- At the end of the cooking time, check the bird is done by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with a sharp knife or skewer. The juices should run clear. If they don’t, return the chicken to the oven until it’s fully cooked.
- Cover the bird loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to settle into the meat, making it more succulent and easier to carve.
*All ovens vary, and some models adjust the temperature, depending on whether you choose a conventional or fan-assisted programme. Always refer to your oven’s handbook, and if you’re still unsure, use an oven thermometer to check the temperature and make adjustments as needed.
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