This recipe utilises brining to uniformly season the chicken and also to make it more moist. After the brining the chicken is rested in the fridge overnight to dry out the skin so you get really great roasted skin.
The brine is 3.5 % salt.
This recipe is a lot easier to make if you have a large plastic container (6 – 7 liter) that you can place the brine and chicken in. Just make sure that the container fits in your fridge.
Ingredients for the Roast Chicken:
5 liters water
175g sea salt
12 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves, skin left on, smashed
2 tbsp black peppercorns
10g fresh rosemary leaves
10g thyme leaves
50g flat-leaf parsley
2 lemons, halfed
One free range chicken, about 1.5 kg
15g thyme (twigs)
Preparing the roast chicken:
Place all of the brine ingredients into a large saucepan. Cover with a lid and boil for one minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Rinse the chicken thoroughly under cold running water. Add the chicken to the brine. Chill in the fridge for six hours.
Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen paper.
Place the chicken on a cake rack and place uncovered in the fridge overnight, this will further dry out the chicken skin.
Preheat the oven to 240C.
Season the inside of each chicken with a light sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To truss the chicken, place one chicken on a tray with the legs towards you. Tuck the wing tips under the bird. Cut a 90 cm piece of kitchen twine and place it on top of the neck end of the breast. Lift the neck end of the bird and pull the twine down around the wings and under the chicken, then bring the ends up over the breast, towards you, and tie the twine into a knot, pulling it tight to plump the breast.
Bring the ends of the twine around the ends of the drumsticks and straight up. Tie as before to pull the drumsticks together and form a compact bird; tie again to secure the knot.
Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before roasting.
Season the outside of the chicken with a light sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place a heavy-based, ovenproof frying pan over a high heat. When the pan is hot, add half the oil and heat until hot.
Put the chicken breast-side up into the pan, and then into the oven with the legs facing the back of the oven. Roast for 40 minutes, checking the bird every 15 minutes and rotating the frying pan if the chicken are browning unevenly.
After 40 minutes, check the temperature of the bird by inserting a thermometer between the leg and the thigh. The temperature should read approximately 68C. The chicken will continue to cook as it sits, reaching a temperature of about 73C.
When the bird are cooked, remove from the oven, add the thyme leaves to the pans, and baste the bird with the juices and thyme leaves. Set aside in a warm place for ten minutes.
Carve and serve.