For a long time I wouldn’t eat a roast meal. Roasts conjured up memories of too many childhood dinners sat before a plate of cold meat and vegetables, a large puddle of slowly congealing gravy oozing over the offending dish. Then there were the boarding house dinners, with large tins of fatty meat and soggy vegetables. Gravy came as an optional extra on the side, but was poured over everything to disguise the lack of flavour. Mr Grumpy had different memories of his childhood roast dinners, and would nag me to make them. Slowly over time I relented. I’m still not sold on roast lamb, nor roast beef, but I have absolutely warmed to the delights of a roast chicken. A large roast chicken will provide you with more than one meal, plus a carcass for stock. However, a good roast chicken takes time. Not something usually afforded in the middle of the week, so I developed this easy weeknight roast chicken which is ready in a fraction of the time.
The trick to a quick roast chicken dinner is to cook chicken pieces rather than the whole bird. I favour chicken marylands, which will give you the dark meaty thigh and a drumstick. A quick rub with olive oil, salt and pepper is all that is needed, but sometimes I get a little fancy and rub it with my homemade spice rub instead.
As you well know, the biggest delight of any roast chicken is the crispy bits. The skin, the nobby bits of meat that have been caught in the heat. Crispy bits are unfortunately in short supply on a whole bird, but not a problem with chicken pieces. Cooked on a rack, the whole piece goes crispy in the heat of the oven. No more arguments about who got more skin.
This chicken is good with pretty much anything. To make a meal out of it I will either roast some small potatoes at the same time and serve the dish with salad or oven roasted broccoli, or slide in a potato boulangere to cook alongside the chicken. I always cook more chicken pieces than I need as the meat is great for sandwiches over the coming days. If gravy is a must for your chicken dinner, use the pan juices to make your gravy.
We are in love with this roast chicken. It is so quick and easy to throw together that it features regularly on our weekly menus. Now if only I could find a better way to roast lamb.
Your meat is cooked when the juices contain no sign of blood and when the meat has started to pull away from the drumstick. Overcooking will give you dry meat.
The quantities I have given below are what I usually cook for our family of two adults and one child, allowing for leftovers.
- 4 free-range or organic chicken marylands (drumstick and thigh) pieces
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan forced).
- Place an oven proof rack over an oven dish or baking tray.
- Assess your chicken pieces. If there are extremely obviously pieces of fat hanging off the chicken I will sometimes remove them, but if you cannot be bothered the fat will render out in the heat of the oven.
- Rub the chicken pieces with olive oil. Make sure you get the underside as well.
- Liberally season your chicken with salt & pepper, on both the top and bottom.
- Position the chicken pieces on the rack so they are not touching and then place the rack in the oven.
- Cook for 45 minutes to one hour, until the chicken is well browned, the juices run clear and the meat has started to pull away from the bone.
- Remove from the oven.
- If serving immediately, allow to rest for 5 minutes in a warm place whilst you assemble the remainder of the meal.
- Otherwise allow to cool and use as required.