The Food Standards Agency recommends that chicken is not washed after removing the packaging. The reasoning behind this is chicken can be contaminated with salmonella or campylobacter. It only takes a few of these bugs to to make somebody very unwell and the process of washing a chicken can disperse bacteria into your kitchen environment, particularly in the sink area. The method of killing bacteria in the chicken is by cooking to the correct temperature. The temperature that you want to achieve is at least 75°C in the thickest part of the bird. This is where a probe thermometer is very useful. They only cost a few pounds and a perfectly good one you can buy for under a tenner or use the juices run clear method below.
1x 1.35 kg free range chicken
1⁄2 small lemon, thinly sliced and the slices halved, plus the juice of the remaining 1⁄2 lemon 21⁄2 level tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or tarragon leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
10 g softened butter
1 dessertspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
275ml chicken stock (may be made with a stock cube)
If present remove the string that holds the legs of the bird together so that the joints are loose. The roasting tin needs to be substantial so that it is capable of being used on the hob to make the gravy/sauce, so the little foil trays will not allow you to do this.
Make a garlic and herb butter by placing the garlic, 2 tablespoons of the chopped tarragon leaves and the butter in a bowl and combine them with a fork, adding some salt and pepper. Then place the herb butter inside the body cavity of the bird, along with the halved lemon slices. Smear a little of the olive oil over the base of the roasting tin, place the chicken in it, then smear the rest of the olive oil all over the skin of the bird.
Lastly, season well with salt and black pepper and then pop the roasting tin into the lower third of the oven. Now let it roast for 45 minutes without opening the oven door.
When this time is up, remove the bird from the oven. Next using 2 forks, spear the chicken beneath the legs on each side and tip the chicken so that all the buttery juices and slices of lemon pour out into the roasting tin, then transfer the bird on to a carving board, cover with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes.
IF THE JUICES ARE NOT RUNNING BLOOD FREE AND CLEAR RETURN TO THE OVEN UNTIL THE JUICES RUN CLEAR. IT IS ESSENTIAL TO THOROUGHLY COOK THE CHICKEN UNTIL PIPING HOT.
Meanwhile, using a tablespoon, skim off the excess fat from the juices in the roasting tin, then place the tin over direct heat, add the stock and lemon juice and let the whole lot bubble and reduce to about half its original volume.
Now add the remaining tarragon or parsley, then taste and check the seasoning. Carve the chicken on to warm plates and add any juices to the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.