Nothing beats a good roast done with simple ingredients
This roast chicken with tomatoes and basil is the perfect Sunday roast as we come into Spring.
- SERVES: 4
- PREP TIME: 5 mins
- COOK TIME: 1hr 20 mins
- DIFFICULTY: easy
Epic roast chicken
It’s a classic, roast chicken.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a face screw up when I announce we’re having roast chicken.
But as simple as it is to do.
You can get it wrong if you don’t follow a few simple steps.
The biggest worry is making sure it’s stunningly moist.
With perfect crispy skin.
So, here are a few tips and ideas to tackle your next roast chicken.
This comes down to personal preference and time.
I have tried many methods to get the perfect roast.
And I still don’t have a favourite.
The brining method is divine.
The spatchcock chicken, very tasty.
And the ‘pop-it-in-the-oven-and-shut-the-door’ method also comes out great.
And then there’s the oven-rack method in this recipe.
Roast chicken with tomatoes and basil
This dish is one of Jamie Oliver’s and I spotted it on one of his (many) cooking shows.
He wanted to combine the flavours of a Margherita pizza.
With a Sunday roast chicken.
And it works!
Super tasty, sweet, salty, crispy.
It’s a winner.
This is a method of roasting I’ve actually done before.
It’s where you place the bird on the rack (no tray).
And underneath, on the next rack, goes the roasting dish with the tomatoes (or potatoes).
So that the fat and juices drip down to the roasting dish.
Dousing everything with heavenly flavours and extra goodness.
Plus, this method means your chicken cooks evenly all the way around.
But before you crack on with this recipe.
Here’s a rundown of other methods you may want to try one day.
2 alternative roasting methods
Spatchcocking aka butterflying is great to give a gorgeously cooked chicken with crisp skin.
And the best part, it cooks quickly — approx 45 mins.
However, if you haven’t asked your butcher to spatchcock it.
Then you will need to do it yourself (it’s actually very easy, check it out, here).
I’ve not actually done this myself.
But I have bought chickens that are already like this.
It’s basically tying your chicken up into a compact shape.
The theory being, a trussed chicken, helps keep the white meat moist.
Here’s a video from YouTube, if you want to have a go.
Seasoning, spices and aromatics
If you’re doing a rub, a wet or a brine.
Then doing ahead of time will maximise your flavours.
This is a combo of salt and spices or aromatics (or both) that you use to season a chicken.
It will give you a more crisp-skinned bird.
You normally do a dry brine 1 hr ahead (and leave to rest uncovered in the fridge).
Or better still, do it 24 hrs ahead.
And this is what makes a dry brine different from a rub.
A rub is usually added shortly before cooking.
Then there’s the wet brine.
Which is a bit more of a process (24hrs).
But is where you can add flavours into the chicken as it absorbs the flavours in the brine.
Adding (even) more flavour to chicken
Another way to add flavour to chicken is through its cavity.
Just before roasting add things like sprigs of herbs, garlic cloves, onions, lemons.
A drizzle of oil or spreading some butter before roasting can help brown the skin.
Or, stuff with butter, herbs etc under the skin.
Use your fingers to gently pull the skin away from the breast, loosening it just enough to smear butter between the meat and the skin.
Glazing a chicken adds flavour, a rich dark colour, and shine to the skin.
The key is to combine some kind of sugar with an intense condiment or seasoning.
e.g. honey, lemon and soy sauce; maple syrup, hot sauce, and black pepper; brown sugar, lime juice and mustard; hoisin and rice vinegar.
To glaze the bird, brush on the sweet mixture during the last 10 to 20 mins of cooking (make sure it doesn’t burn).
NB. glazing a bird moistens the skin, making it shiny and flavourful, but less crisp.
For best results when roasting a chicken in a pan, try and raise it a little so the air circulates.
Either a roasting pan rack or do as I do and place some carrots or onions under the bird.
Go low and slow for a very tender, falling-off-the-bone flesh and softer skin (around 150 – 175C degrees for 1 ½ to 2 hrs or so).
Or roast it fast and furiously for less time for crisp, dark brown skin and firmer, chewier flesh (between 185 – 250C degrees for 45 mins to 1 1/2 hours).
Checking it’s done
The safest and easiest way to check for doneness is to use a meat thermometer.
And insert into the thickest part of the thigh to check the chicken is cooked at 74C (165F).
If you don’t have a thermometer, use a knife to make a small cut into the thigh going all the way to the bone.
If you see any red flesh, put the bird back into the oven.
You can also pierce the thigh with a knife to see if the juices are running clear.
Roast chicken with tomatoes and basil
- 1.5 kg ripe tomatoes, cut in half
- 2 bulbs of garlic, crushed
- 1 bunch of basil
- red wine vinegar
- olive oil
- 1 .5 kg free-range chicken
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Place the halved tomatoes into a large roasting tray and scatter the crushed garlic cloves and some of the basil around the tray.Season with sea salt and black pepper, drizzle everything with 2 tablespoons each of red wine vinegar and olive oil, then toss well.
- Now, with the chicken, stuff the rest of the basil into the chicken cavity.Place the chicken in the roasting tray and rub some of the flavours from the tomatoes, oil, seasoning etc into the bird.
- Take your chicken and place it directly on an oven rack and put the tray of tomatoes underneath (so it can capture all the chickens' juices during cooking)Roast for 1 hr 20 mins, or until the chicken is golden and cooked through.Remove the chicken to the tray of tomatoes and rest it.Squeeze a few garlic cloves out of their skins and mash into the tray juices. Serve, drizzling the garlicky, tomatoey juices over everything.