How on earth have I managed to go for so many months without roasting a chicken? I found this beautiful free-range, maize-fed bird in Waitrose. It was calling out in a ghostly chicken voice to be stuffed with zingy, summer aromatics.
Roast chicken using this method is as easy as anything; you only need to spend a few minutes preparing the bird to go into the oven, and it produces so much buttery, herby, oniony juice that you don’t need to make a gravy.
Some people like to roast their chicken with the breast pointing downwards, in order to keep everything moist. You don’t get such a crisp skin with this method, though, so I prefer to roast the chicken the right way up, breast pointing skywards, and baste every ten minutes or so with the buttery juices.
1 lime, cut in halves
3 red onions, sliced roughly
10 cloves of garlic, skin on
1 handful marjoram from the garden
1 stalk celery
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons flaked dried chilis and freshly ground pepper (I used a grinder of Spirits of Fire mix from the Elements of Spice company in South Africa – a present, along with another five grinders of wonderful things, from our friends Greg and Sienne.)
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put both halves of the lime, the celery (in pieces), one of the onions, the marjoram, half the garlic, a tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon of chillis and pepper inside the cavity of the bird. You may have to push quite hard, but persevere; it’ll all fit with a bit of squeezing.
Stack the remaining onions and garlic in the bottom of the roasting tin, and place the chicken on top. Dot the rest of the butter on the surface of the chicken, and grind the rest of the spices all over.
You should cook your chicken for 45 minutes per kilo, plus 20 minutes. Baste every 10 minutes or so, and rest the bird for 5-10 minutes when you remove it from the oven. It will have released delicious juices into the tray, which you can spoon over your accompaniments along with the now roast onions and garlic. I served this with a bacon and onion rosti, which soaked up the juices beautifully – watch this space for a recipe.
No sandwich in the world is better than the sandwich you make the day after roasting this chicken with the jellied juices, a little roast onion and the tender meat you’ve stripped from the carcass.