Simple, Savage, Roast Chicken

I come from a big family. We all like our grub. Needless to say, Sunday roasts to feed 10 or more people were a big part of my life growing up. When I moved away from home, this disappeared from my life and it wasn't until I started doing it for myself and my friends that I realised the joy of it. You can make a stir fry for one person, but a roast dinner is made to be shared and it's a really great way to bring people together.

This recipe is really simple but it never fails to please.

Note: Raw chicken can carry harmful bacteria. Please ensure that you wash your hands carefully after handling it. DO NOT wash the chicken itself. This only increases the risk of splashing harmful bacteria around your kitchen.

Serves: 6

Time: 2hrs

2 roasting trays large enough to fit the chicken on with at least 1 cm high sides
Tin foil
Medium sized pot with steamer (if you don't have a steamer you can use a metal colander instead. It's not as efficient but it will do the trick.)
Small pot
Carving fork (a regular fork will do if you're stuck.)
Potato Masher

Whole Chicken, preferably free-range
80ml of Olive Oil approx.
6 Sprigs of Thyme approx. (optional)
1.5kg of Potatoes (Maris Pipers are nice)
1kg of Carrots
150g Butter
2 tsp of Bisto Gravy Powder (not granules)
1 Small Onion

1. Remove the chicken from the fridge half an hour before cooking it to allow it to come up to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 210°C.

2. Lay a sheet of tinfoil down on your baking tray that covers the base and comes up just beyond the height of the sides. Pour a spoonful of olive oil on the foil and rub it around a little.

3. Remove your chicken from its packaging, make sure there are no innards left inside and remove the string tied around it. Lay it on its back in the middle of the tray. Move it around a little on the oil to ensure that it won't stick during roasting. It should slide around easily. Insert the sprigs of thyme into chicken. Drizzle olive oil all over the chicken (It doesn't need to be a heavy coating.) Spread the oil out with your hands to ensure a light overall coating. Sprinkle a little salt all over the chicken.

4. Place in the middle of the oven for around 30 mins until it is nicely browned. It should look as brown at this point as it will be when served. Cover with tinfoil and put it back in the oven.

5. Allow the chicken to cook for another hour. To check if the chicken is fully cooked, pierce the thickest part of the breast and check that the juices run clear (i.e. no blood trickles out).

6. While the chicken is browning, prepare the potatoes. Wash them, and cut any potatoes that are too large in half to ensure they all cook at around the same speed. Place the potatoes in a medium sized pot and cover them with cold water. Boil them on a high heat until they are softened and a sharp knife passes in and out of them with ease. Strain them.

7. Prepare the second roasting tray by covering it in a sheet of tinfoil. Grease it lightly with a little olive oil and then tip the potatoes into its centre. With a masher gently break each potato just slightly then dot each one with a small cube of butter and sprinkle with a little salt.

8. Place the tray of potatoes in the oven for around 45 mins until the you see the edges of the skins of the potato become golden and crispy.

9. Peel the carrots and cut them into batons. For the gravy, peel and finely dice a small onion.

10. In a small saucepan, in a little oil, on a medium heat, fry the onion until softened and a little translucent. Add a heaped teaspoon of Bisto gravy powder to a large mug and then fill with cold water. Stir well and add to the saucepan. Leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 mins. The gravy will reduce and thicken.

Tip: Add a teaspoon of country relish for a little more flavour.

11. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven. Using a fork lift the chicken carefully off the tinfoil and place on a carving tray or large plate. Cover it again with tinfoil and lay a tea-towel over it to keep it warm. Let it rest for 15 mins before carving. Pour any juices left in the foil into the gravy and stir well.

12. 12 minutes before you are ready to serve, bring 1 inch of water to the boil in a saucepan with a steamer. Place the carrots in the steamer and allow to cook for 8-10 mins. The speed at which the carrots cook is very much dependent upon the steamer so keep a very close eye and test their consistency regularly. When they are cooked they will bend slightly before breaking and should still have a little bite to them. Remove from the steam and blanch (run a little cold water over them) to stop them from continuing to cook.

13. Insert the carving fork so that its prongs straddle the chicken's breastbone. Carve and bring it to table.