There's minimal prep needed for this easy roast chicken dinner. No trivets, no butter under the skin, just a simple, tasty and juicy roast chicken with a big jug of delicious gravy.
One minute of prep. That's my aim in life when it comes to a roast chicken.
I'll also show you how to make a tasty simple gravy once that chicken is cooked.
I get why chefs often do all sorts of cheffy things when they're roasting a chicken. Stuffing them with aromatics, making herb butters to rub under the skin, delicately balancing the chicken on top of chopped up veggies in the baking tray. It all adds a new dimension to a regular chicken.
But I like a regular roast chicken! Juicy, tender with a crispy, well-seasoned skin.
No fuss and faffing - just a bit of oil and seasoning on top and a lemon wedge or two inside the chicken, and then sling it in the oven while you concentrate on the rest of the roast dinner.
And that's what we're going with today. This is all I do to my chicken when I'm making a roast chicken dinner.
I'll also show you how to make a tasty simple gravy once that chicken is cooked. No squeezing juices out of vegetable trivets, making a roux with flour or bubbling down wine. Just the quickest and simplest way to get a really good meaty and flavourful gravy.
Reasons I don’t use the trivet method:
- Whilst a vegetable trivet can help to keep roasting meat moist, chickens aren't generally in the oven long enough to dry out (unless it's overcooked of course). I might use a trivet for something like a brisket – which takes a long time to cook, and needs all the help with moisture it can get, but a good quality chicken doesn't need it in my opinion.
- When using a trivet, the meat juices are absorbed into the veggies - this means you need to go to the effort of squeezing out all of those juices if you want to get a flavourful gravy. Granted, roasted veggies can add a bit of extra flavour to the gravy, but you're still chucking those veggies away once you've squeezed them, and that means that at least some flavour is being thrown away.
- Using a vegetable trivet can mean the meat juices don't caramelize in the baking tin. That sticky caramelization of meat juices adds so much flavour to gravy. The moisture in the veggies of a vegetable trivet can prevent this caramelization process happening.
For my family of 4, I usually get a 1.5 - 2kg whole chicken (free-range) which is perfect for a roast dinner and enough for leftovers too 🙂
How do we make it?
- Drizzle oil onto a medium-sized chicken that's been out of the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes. Rub the oil into the skin with your hands and sprinkle on salt, pepper and thyme. Place two lemon wedges inside the chicken.
- Place the chicken in the oven for approx. 1 hour 20 to 1 hour 30 minutes – until the skin is golden and the juices run clear.
- Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes on a warm plate while you make the gravy.
For the gravy
- Place the roasting tin on the hob and heat over a medium heat.
- Sprinkle on the crumbled stock cubes, and stir together whilst pouring in the hot vegetable water. Bring to the boil and lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in a the cornstarch slurry using a whisk, until the gravy thickens.
- Stir in ¼ tsp of gravy browning if you like a darker gravy, then pour the gravy into a warm gravy jug.
- Crispy Skin. If you want the skin to remain crisp, don’t cover the chicken during resting. It will still stay warm for 15-20 minutes in a warm kitchen.
- You can spoon out a little of the fat from the roasting tin before you make the gravy, but don't remove it all. Fat = flavour! Leaving the flavoured fat in there will help to ensure a rich, velvety gravy.
- Save the leftover chicken carcass for delicious chicken soup or chicken stock! I have a post on making 3 meals from 1 Chicken.
What if my chicken comes with giblets?
Giblets are sometimes packaged up and placed inside the cavity of the chicken. You might be more likely to find the packaged giblets in a bird from a farm shop or butcher. Supermarket birds don't usually include them.
The giblets generally include the neck, heart and liver of the chicken. Always remove the giblets (especially if they're in a plastic bag) before roasting the chicken.
The neck and heart can be boiled up in water for a few hours to make a stock. Don't include the liver though, as this can make the stock bitter.
Should I wash the chicken before roasting it?
Nope. It's not a good idea to wash your chicken. Minute water droplets from water being splashed about when washing a raw chicken can spread bacteria from the chicken onto hands, clothes and work surfaces.
This bacteria will be killed during the cooking process, so long as the chicken is fully cooked through, so there's no need to wash it first.
If you have a steam-assisted oven
If you have a steam-assisted oven, cook the chicken at the same temperature as per the recipe card. Add low or medium steam during the whole of the cooking.
The circulation of the steam around and inside the chicken will likely reduce the cooking time slightly. For a 1.5kg chicken, I would cook it for around 10 or 15 minutes less (so around 1 hour 10 minutes).
Always ensure the chicken is cooked throughout, no longer pink and the juices run clear.
What to do with Leftover Chicken
First of all I ALWAYS (actually I get Chris to do this), remove all of the shreds and leftover bits of chicken meat and then make Chicken Stock and put it in the freezer. Its such a simple thing but tastes so much better than shop-bought.
- Chicken fried rice
- Tuscan Chicken Soup
- Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake
- Creamy Chicken and Potato Bake
- Roast Chicken & Creamy Garlic Mushroom Burger
- Chicken ala King
- Garlic Chicken Pasta with Kale
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If you want a variation on the classic roast chicken dinner then you need to take a look at my Curry Roast Chicken, all cooked in one pan, its always on our recipe rotation.
Roast Chicken Recipe
- 1 Whole chicken – approx 1.5kg - ideally free range
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp dried thyme
- ½ lemon - chopped into two wedges (optional)
- Meat juices from your roasted chicken
- 3 chicken stock cubes - crumbled
- 720 ml (3 cups) hot vegetable stock - from your boiled/steamed vegetables and potatoes
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp gravy browning optional
- 2 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
- 5 tbsp cold water
- Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30-45 minutes before roasting to take the chill off it.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Place the chicken in a roasting tin (don’t wash it). Drizzle on the oil and rub into the skin with your hands.
- Sprinkle on the salt, pepper and thyme and place the two lemon wedges inside the chicken.
- Place the chicken in the oven for approx. 1 hour 20 to 1 hour 30 minutes – until the skin is golden and the juices run clear (you can test this by inserting a skewer in the thickest part of the thigh – the liquid that runs out should be clear). If you have a temperature probe, the internal temperature should be 75C/165F.
- Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes on a warm plate while you make the gravy. If you want the skin to remain crisp, don’t cover the chicken during resting.
- For the gravy: Place the roasting tin on the hob and heat over a medium heat (if your roasting dish can’t be placed on the hob, then transfer any meat juices from the tin to a saucepan, scraping up any crispy bits in the tin. You can swill with a little water if you need to.).
- Sprinkle on the crumbled stock cubes, and stir together whilst pouring in the hot vegetable water.
- Bring to the boil and lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the cornstarch slurry using a whisk, until the gravy thickens.
- Stir in the gravy browning if you like a darker gravy. Allow to bubble then turn off the heat.
Recommended cooking times:Cook for 45 minutes per kg (2.2lbs), plus an extra 20 minutes at 180C/350F - until the internal temperature of the chicken is 75C/165F
If you have a steam-assisted oven:If you have a steam-assisted oven, cook the chicken at the same temperature as per the recipe card. Add low or medium steam during the whole of the cooking.
The circulation of the steam around and inside the chicken will likely reduce the cooking time slightly. For a 1.5kg chicken, I would cook it for around 10 or 15 minutes less (so around 1 hour 10 minutes). Always ensure the chicken is cooked throughout, no longer pink and the juices run clear. Nutritional information is per serving.
This post was published Mar 2020, updated in Oct 2020 with additional hints and tips and for housekeeping reasons.
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