Make your best ever roast chicken with these classic recipes, clever twists and quick crowd-pleasers.
The basic recipe
Spiced roast chicken with root veg
1 x 1.8kg good quality free-range chicken
sea salt and black pepper
sumac for dusting
extra virgin olive oil
400g carrots, scrubbed and left whole if small or sliced if large
400g beetroot, scrubbed and cut into wedges
sprigs of oregano
1. Preheat the oven to 210C/190Cfan/gas 6. with a large roasting pan (about 34cm x 27cm), or equivalent deep ovenproof frying pan, inside. Season the chicken and dust it with sumac. Loosely tie the legs with string, leaving some air between legs and breast. Toss the vegetables with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and some seasoning.
2. Place the chicken in the centre of the hot pan, tucking in the wings. Drizzle over a little oil and scatter the veg around the edge. Tuck in a few sprigs of oregano. Roast for 1 hour, stirring the vegetables halfway through.
3. Remove the chicken to a warm plate. Pour off the juices in the pan and reserve, skimming off any fat. With a spatula, spread out the veg in the pan and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until golden, while the bird is resting. Serve the chicken with the vegetables and the warmed pan juices.
Roast chicken with pepper and fennel
Follow the basic recipe, replacing the vegetables with 400g trimmed sliced fennel (toss it with a few squeezes of lemon juice), and 400g trimmed, deseeded and sliced red peppers. Replace the sumac with ras el hanout and the oregano with sprigs of thyme. Roast as in the basic method, returning the veg to the oven for 15 minutes while the bird is resting.
Roast chicken with butternut squash and red onion
Follow the basic recipe, replacing the vegetables with 400g trimmed butternut squash and 400g peeled red onion, both cut into wedges. Replace the sumac with smoked paprika and the oregano with sprigs of rosemary. Roast as in the basic method, returning the veg to the oven for 20 minutes while the bird is resting.
Roast chicken with whole garlic and skin-on potatoes
Follow the basic recipe, replacing the vegetables with 600g unpeeled waxy potatoes, sliced 1cm thick, and 4 small heads of garlic, tops cut off. Replace the sumac with extra salt and black pepper and the oregano with a few bay leaves. Roast as in the basic method, removing the garlic with the chicken, returning the potatoes to the oven for 20 minutes while the bird is resting.
Serve it with…
Sauce it up!
Watercress and chilli pesto
Prepare 1 heaped tsp finely chopped medium-hot green chilli and trim and chop 2 slim spring onions. Put 100g trimmed watercress and 25g coriander (leaves and fine stalks only) in a food processor. Add 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar followed by the prepped chilli and chopped spring onions. Whiz just until the ingredients combine to form a pesto, season to taste and transfer to a bowl to serve.
To accompany any of the roasts, add 50g crème fraîche to the reserved skimmed cooking juices when rewarming them, stirring thoroughly and simmering for a further couple of minutes to heat through.
Mustardy sour cream
In a jug or small bowl combine 30g dijon mustard with 90g soured cream for a deliciously tangy dollop.
In a food processor, roughly whiz the flesh of 1 avocado with 1 tbsp lemon juice, 50g roasted chopped hazelnuts, a small handful of flat-leaf parsley, a seasoning of sea salt and cayenne pepper and 2-3 tbsp water.
Scatter chopped soft leafy herbs over the roast veg before serving. Choose from parsley, chives, mint and coriander.
Recipes by Annie Bell. Food Styling by Clare Lewis. Styling by Sue Radcliffe