With Roast Chicken, simple is always best. The simplicity of the roast chicken is part of its appeal, so don’t overpower it with lots of ingredients and fussy steps. This is a really nice recipe, quick to prepare and cook, which will appeal to everyone. To get the ‘perfect roast chicken’ start it off, (brought up to room temperature) with an initial high heat in the oven, followed by roasting at a moderate temperature. It is recommend not to truss the bird, and there is no need to baste continuously, only once near the end. The stuffing can also be cooked separately to the bird if you are worried that filling the cavity alters the heat distribution and therefore the cooking times.
Roast Chicken With Orchard Stuffing Recipe
For The Roast Chicken
- A whole chicken, weighing about 2.4 kg (or 5 lbs)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp of fresh chopped thyme
- 2 eating apples (Braeburn)
- 2 pears (Conference)
- 1 large onion (diced very fine)
- 450g of quality sausage meat (you can remove skins from 6 bought ones)
- 6 sage leaves (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
For The Roasting Tray
- 2 medium onions (peeled, chopped rough)
- 3 carrots (peeled, chopped rough)
- 3 sticks of celery (washed, chopped rough)
- A few sprigs of thyme
- A few sprigs of rosemary
- 3 Bay leaves
- 6 Sage Leaves
- 3 tbsp of water
For The Gravy
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 500ml of chicken stock
- 200ml white wine
- The tray of roasting juices from the cooked Chicken.
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to season
Roasting The Chicken
Take the chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before starting to prepare. Always cook meat brought up to a room temperature first.
Preheat the oven to 220C
Buy a good free range bird to make a roast chicken, remove packaging (if any) and undo the trussing (string). Open out the legs and unfold the wings, then carefully wash the inside and outside of the bird with cold water. Drain and dry well with kitchen paper.
Cut off the ‘parson’s nose’, (the lumps of fat just inside the vent) and the excess skin at the neck. Weigh the trimmed chicken and calculate its cooking time – never take the label’s word for it, if you work out your own times you get a perfect bird consistently.
Pinch the chicken breast skin gently to loosen, taking care not to tear it. Put a lump of butter under the skin of the each breast, massaging it downwards and outwards to include the whole breast area. Getting butter under the skin and next to the breast means that when roasting moisture is retained and the butter will keep the breast tender. With the breast side up, rub the skin of the bird all over with butter, including the crook of each wing. Fold the wings back up again.
Sprinkle all over the bird with the juice of the lemon, add some salt and freshly ground black pepper, and a little sprinkle of chopped fresh (or dried) thyme. Remember to do this inside the cavity of the chicken as well. You can stuff the chicken as it roasts with the orchard stuffing, just remember to weight the bird after and use this weight to calculate cooking times.
Place in the bottom of your heavy-based roasting tray (lightly oiled) the peeled and chopped vegetables and the herbs. Pour a little oil over them and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of water.
Put the chicken breast side down on the vegetables, so that it is off the bottom of the roasting tray. Stick the squeezed lemon halves into the cavity. Cover over, either with a lid or some tin foil, (scrunch the foil down tightly around the edges to seal it all round). Place the roasting tin so that the bird is in the centre of the oven. Note: Cooking breast side down to start off means all the juice runs down into the breast meat and not away from it. After ten minutes turn the oven temperature down to 200C / Gas 6.
Cooking times: 20 minutes per 450g (or 1lb) PLUS another 20 minutes. A 2.4kg (or 5lb) bird will take about 2 hours.
Note: 30 minutes before the end of cooking time, take out the chicken, uncover the lid or take off the foil cover, turn the bird over breast side up and baste the chicken with a little melted butter, sprinkle with a little more thyme. Put back in to brown, uncovered, the skin will now crisp up, (if the veg look dry, add a splash of water to the tray to stop them burning).
Check The Chicken Fully Cooked
With a sharp knife prise a leg away from the body a little and look for any sign of pinkness or blood (this is the bit that takes longest to cook). If there is, it needs longer. Try another 10 minutes and look again. Alternately, use a meat thermometer. Insert at the start of cooking, between the leg and the body. When the bird is done, it should register 80C. Check with a metal skewer in a few place to see if the juices run clean.
When fully roasted, let the chicken rest for 20 minutes or so on a carving plate before serving or carving, under a loosely tented foil cover. This is essential to let the moisture return to the meat and let the meat relax after cooking from tightening up.
Making The Orchard Stuffing
Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and sweat the onion with some salt and pepper over a medium heat for 7 minutes, until the onions become translucent and soft (not brown). Tip into a large mixing bowl and leave cool.
Peel and grate the apples and pears, discarding the cores. Add to the onions, with the sausage meat, sea salt, black pepper and sage. Mix very well until all the ingredients are combined and not in clumps. Put into an small casserole dish or other oven proof container – or stuff the chicken with it. Place the tray under the roasting chicken in the oven for 60 minutes.
Making The Gravy:
Remove the roast chicken from the roasting tray – carefully pour off the top fat from the bottom of the tray, leaving only a few tablespoons of fat and the roasting juices and vegetables behind. Then with a fork mash the roast vegetables and herbs into the remaining roasting juices and fat, it does not matter how rough the mixture is just mash it all up. Into a clean saucepan sieve this mixture from the roasting tray into it, mash the lumps of vegetables through the sieve to get all of the flavour out. Go to where you have left the roast chicken resting and pour in any juices that have come out on to the carving plate.
Add in the flour and mix together. Put the saucepan over a medium heat on the cooker and continue to stir and cook out the flour. Add the chicken stock the salt and pepper and white wine. Turn the heat up and bring the gravy to the boil, stirring continuously. When it reaches the boil reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the gravy to thicken by reducing the volume by a quarter to a half.
Serve the Roast Chicken With Orchard Stuffing
Serve with seasonal vegetables, a few slices of chicken, the orchard stuffing and some gravy poured generously all over.