You can’t go wrong with this golden roast chicken, marinated in Mediterranean herbs and spices and spatchcocked so it cooks more evenly, keeping it nice and juicy. A technique I’ve been playing with recently is using baking powder to dry out chicken skin, which helps it to crisp up. The longer you leave the baking powder and salt to do this, the better the effect, but I have found that even a brief amount of time helps. Of course, once you’ve let a chicken rest (which you need to do for succulence) the skin will soften anyway, but if you wanted to give it a go, I’ve included the hack below. I like to serve this with a mustardy salad and some orzo pasta or crusty bread on the side.
chicken 1.6kg, free-range or organic
baking powder ¼ tsp
salt ½ tsp
For the marinade
olive oil 3 tbsp
garlic 4 cloves, minced
dried oregano 1½ tsp
sweet paprika 1 tsp
thyme leaves 1 tbsp, or lemon thyme leaves
unwaxed lemon zest of 1, finely grated
lemon juice 1 tbsp
salt and black pepper
For the salad (optional)
crisp lettuce leaves 4 large handfuls
radishes 5, thinly sliced (and the radish tops, roughly torn, if you have them)
carrot 1 medium, shaved using a vegetable peeler
extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
red wine vinegar 2 tsp
dijon mustard ¼ tsp
Begin by spatchcocking the chicken. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut down both sides of the backbone to remove it. Turn the bird over and press down firmly on its breastbone, pulling its legs out to flatten it. I also like to cut off the ends of the legs and wings by cutting along the joints.
Remove any giblets and pat the skin dry with kitchen paper. This bit is really important; you want the skin as dry as possible before you roast it.
Mix the baking powder and salt together and rub this over the chicken skin. Leave this on for at least 20 minutes.
Now mix all the marinade ingredients together with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. (If you aren’t doing the bicarb trick, add ½ teaspoon extra salt, to make a total of 1½ teaspoons.) Rub this on both sides of the chicken, loosening the skin under the breast bone and the thighs so you can get it right in there under the skin too. Leave to marinate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 220C fan/gas mark 9 and transfer the chicken to a roasting dish. When you are ready to cook, reduce the oven temperature to 180C fan/gas mark 6 and roast the chicken for 35-40 minutes, until it is browned on top and the juices run clear, basting the bird with its juices after 25 minutes. Leave to rest for 10 minutes, uncovered.
If you are serving the salad, assemble the lettuce, radishes and carrot in a serving bowl. Separately whisk the oil, vinegar and mustard together, seasoning well with salt and black pepper, and toss it with the salad. Serve with the chicken.