The secret to a perfectly cooked, ‘falling-apart’ roast chicken, as I have learnt from my sister Elizabeth, is to add vegetables and water to the roasting tin, cover it, and cook it at a slightly lower than normal heat, but for a longer cooking time – essentially leaving your chicken in the oven for 2–3 hours. The vegetables and chicken juices make for a delicious gravy. Marjoram, fresh or dried, adds a wonderful sweet herby Polish flavour. I serve my roast chicken with cracked pearl barley or buckwheat kasza and at least two raw salads.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 4 carrots, halved lengthways
- 2 white onions, halved, outer skin removed
- 1 large chicken, preferably free-range, organic
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp chicken seasoning, a crumbled stock cube or 1 tsp Vegeta vegetable bouillon powder
- 2 tbsp fresh or dried marjoram
- 9 fl oz 1 cup (250 ml) water
- 1 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
- 9 fl oz 1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock
- Take the chicken out of the fridge around 20 minutes before you start cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
- Put the carrots and onions into a large cast-iron pan or deep roasting tin and place the chicken on top. Drizzle over the oil and season well with salt, pepper, the chicken seasoning or bouillon powder and marjoram. Pour the water around the chicken and cover the pan with a lid or tightly with foil.
- Place the chicken in the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and continue to cook for a further 2 hours. After this time, remove the lid or foil, turn the oven back up to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the skin is golden and crisp.
- Once cooked (test by piercing with a thin skewer – the juices should run clear, not pink), take the chicken out of the oven, cover it with foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
- Remove the carrots and onions from the pan and save them, along with the chicken carcass, to make a stock later. Or use them, along with the juices in the pan, to make some gravy, first removing any fat with a tablespoon, or using a gravy separator jug. Mash the vegetables with a fork or a potato masher. Add the flour and stir until thickened. Pour in chicken stock, strain, then bring to the boil again before serving.
- Carve the chicken and serve with cracked pearl barley or buckwheat kasza and fresh vegetables, or a couple of raw salads.