I, like many, many others, made the decision a while back to steer my meat-eating habits away from the intensively reared. It takes a bit more organisation, but above anything, the taste difference is amazing.
Still, when it comes to chicken, choosing free-range in my local butcher means one has to buy a whole bird. Sometimes I get the nice chaps to butcher the bird into manageable chunks, but more often than not I quickly roast it, and use the leftovers to fill pies and risottos for the rest of the week. This is a great way to cook; not exactly quick, but certainly not complicated.
When I roast a chicken to serve simply (i.e. NOT with all the Sunday trimmings), this is what I do.
Get the chicken and season the cavity with salt and pepper…
Cut a lemon in half…
And do the same with a head of garlic.
I take some lovely herbs (this time I used sage, rosemary and thyme, singing Simon and Garfunkel all the way)…
And stuff all of these lovely givers of flavour into the handsome bird.
I cut some shallots in half to make a trivet for the bird (these are EXCELLENT for gravy, or even just spread onto lovely, lovely bread the next day *piggy icon*)…
And lay these on the bottom of my roasting tray.
I then plop the bird on top of the shallots, drizzle with oil and season well.
And then the whole thing goes into a lovely hot oven, until a fork into the thigh produces clear juices. A hard thing to photograph, by the way. Must. try. Harder.
Then devour the lovely chicken with mash. Or rice. or bread. Or salad. Or your bare hands. Enjoy!
Serves 4-6 (or two with enough leftovers for a couple of other dinners). Cooking time 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
1 1kg chicken
1 head garlic
2 handfuls herbs
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.
2. Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper.
3. Cut the lemon and the head of garlic in half, and stuff into the cavity with the herbs.
4. Cut the shallots in half and place on the bottom of the roasting tray.
5. Place the stuffed chicken on top, season, and drizzle with oil.
6. Put in the oven for about an hour and a half, or until the juices run clear.