In every cook book I own and there are a lot of them, roast chicken features as an easy, everyday roast. While I completely agree that it is easy, I want to take my roast to the next level. First of all I start with a great, free range bird, fresh herbs and tangy lemon and what you get is my Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken.
A cook’s view on animal welfare:
Now don’t get me wrong, I love roast chicken, as long as it’s a good bird. By that I mean free range or organic. Not only am I concerned for the welfare of the chicken during its life, the additional antibiotics and fast growing make me shudder. Buying well bred, slow growing birds not only ensures a better quality of life for the chicken, the resulting taste, when cooked, couldn’t be more different to a standard, supermarket chicken.
I have mentioned before our decision, as a family, to eat less meat, but what we do eat must be of good quality. And yes that means paying more. Making the meat go further helps with the cost, but ultimately it is our personal choice. Especially with less additives/antibiotics and a happier lifetime, each chicken we eat is cooked with respect for the bird and I aim to waste nothing.
Growing your own herbs:
I grow a lot of our own herbs in tubs and in the garden. While rosemary and thyme are probably my most frequently used herbs. Also being hardy I can still pick them in the winter, along with bay and sage. Most supermarkets sell freshly potted herbs at a great price. Next time you are doing your weekly shop, grab a couple of pots, plant them into larger tubs, or the ground (only plant mint in a pot – it’s a thug in the ground!).
As you can see from the photo above, my thyme is just starting to flower. Pretty, tiny pink flowers that are fine to leave on the stalks and add extra interest when used as a garnish.
Tasting the difference:
So let me encourage you to buy, or should I say invest in a slower growing free range/organic bird and a pot of fresh herbs. I buy all of our meet from Graig Farm in Wales and have done so for the last few years. Chicken used for this recipe came from them and the taste was noticeably better than a mass produced, supermarket bird. The only way you’ll know is by tasting the roasted chicken.
With free delivery on all orders over £100 and a new customer discount, it is well worth taking at look at their website here. I generally buy our meat in bulk and then fill the freezer. Since I find buying larger joints of meat works out more economical and bigger cuts of meat, especially on the bone, taste so much better. I realise there are 5 of us in our house, so let me reassure you that they sell a wide range of meats, in different cuts and sizes. Also if there’s something you’d like and they don’t list it, give them a ring. Especially as Graig Farm’s customer service is excellent and they always try to accommodate each individual customer’s requests.
Recipe: Make one 2.2kg/5lb Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken, serves 8
2.2kg/5lb Chicken – preferably organic or free range – ours was from Graig Farm
1 Fresh Unwaxed Lemon – scrub in hot water if waxed
Approx 10 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
1tbsp Olive Oil
Sea salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to season
Optional – 6 rashers smoked streaky bacon – again preferably organic or free range
Method: Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan, gas mark 6, 400F
Preparing the chicken for roasting:
- Remove the chicken from the fridge 1 hour prior to roasting.
- Take the giblets out of the cavity and pat the outside dry with kitchen roll.
- Sprinkle a generous pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper into the chicken’s cavity.
- Cut a lemon in half and insert into the chicken cavity.
- Push the fresh thyme into the cavity with the lemon.
- Place the chicken in a roasting dish that is just big enough to hold the bird.
- Rub 1 tablespoon of olive oil all over the outside of the chicken.
- Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground black pepper all over the chicken’s outside.
- Lay strips of streaky bacon across the bird.
- Also tuck the giblets down the side of the bird. Because when roasted these will add massive flavour to any gravy or stock.
- Next tightly cover the chicken in aluminium foil.
Roasting the chicken:
- Place the chicken into the middle of the oven and roast for 1 hour 40 minutes.
- After the roasting time has elapsed remove the chicken from the oven.
- Remove the aluminium foil and cooked bacon rashers – cook’s perk!
- Baste with the juices and place back into the oven for a further 20 minutes to crisp up the skin.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: the cooking times are based on 20 minutes per pound of meat, plus an extra twenty minutes. For a 5lb chicken like this one, the roasting time is 1 hour 40 minutes, plus an extra 20 minutes – adjust your timings to fit the weight of your bird.
- Remove the chicken from the oven at the end of it’s cooking time.
- Press a sharp knife into the thickest part of the chicken’s thigh. The chicken is cooked if the juices are clear. If there is ANY hint of pink pop the chicken back into the oven and retest after 15 minutes.
- As soon as the chicken cooked remove from it’s roasting tin and place on a board or serving platter. Use the leftover juices in the tin to make a lemon and thyme flavoured gravy.
- Cover the chicken loosely with aluminium foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes (or up to an hour).
How to serve your chicken:
Serve the Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken with traditional roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables, or in the summer with hunks of good, homemade fresh bread like this Farmhouse White Loaf and a crisp green salad.
A delicious twist on a favourite roast, this Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken will awaken your taste buds and leave you wanting more!
If you’ve enjoyed the recipe for this Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken, here are few few more you might like:
Do you love Roast Chicken?
What is your opinion on oraganic versus standard?
It has been amazing to see so many of you putting up photos on Twitter and Instagram where you have made my recipes. Honestly I cannot express the gratitude I feel, when you place your trust in me. Ingredients cost money, which is why I test each recipe thoroughly to ensure you have the best possible chance of success when following them.
Seeing your makes and bakes keeps Feasting is Fun at the heart of what this blog is all about. Having fun whilst making and baking in your kitchens and then feasting and sharing with family, friends and neighbours.
That makes me smile!
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