Prolific cookery writers produce innumerable recipes for roast chicken, so perhaps I may allow myself to publish what is not the first example of its kind to appear here. (My entry on Heston’s roast chicken is the most viewed item on this blog.) I tend to stick to a technique for a while, and then to move on to another one. This is my current favourite. The timing is for a chicken of 1.5kg.
Gently work loose the skin above the breast bone, insert a knob of butter, and try to push it around so that it smears the breast meat. Rub the outside of the chicken with a little oil (olive or vegetable). Shove into the cavity of the bird whatever flavouring agents you like – lemon, onion, garlic cloves, herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
Put the chicken into an oven dish, along with any giblets you have (apart from the liver), and a halved onion. Pour in (but not over the chicken) 200ml water. If you do not have giblets, cut off the wing-tips and use those.
Roast at gas mark 6/200C for about 30 minutes, by which time the skin should have started to brown. Turn the giblets and onion pieces. Continue to roast at gas mark 2/150C for a further hour – but check that the chicken is continuing to cook at a steady pace, adjusting the heat if necessary.
Remove the chicken from the dish, and pour the stock into a small saucepan, adding the giblets and onions too. Having removed the lemon/onion/herbs first, you can hold the chicken by the wings with paper towels in order to pour the juices from the cavity into the saucepan as well.
I have a grill drawer above my oven, and I keep the roasted chicken in there to keep warm. It will hold for at least half an hour.
If you have just the right amount of stock (which is your sauce), simmer it further in a covered pan. If you want to reduce it, simmer it in an uncovered pan. Or you could top it up with more water before simmering it.
Check the seasoning. Strain the stock/sauce into a heated jug, and serve with the chicken.