Jamie Oliver’s fantastic roasted chicken

December 22, 2006 / All you really need to know about roasting a chicken.

For my birthday my mum sent me a copy of Jamie Oliver’s Return of the Naked Chef. The first thing I did was to check whether it contained Jamie’s recipe for roasted chicken (which I used to own in a copy of his first book back home). Well, it does. Probably too popular not to reprint. This was how I first encountered Mr. Oliver and his devil-may-care approach to gourmet cooking: an early episode of his TV show in which roasts a chook. Years later I remembered it well. He had made it look so easy that a few months back I decided to give it a shot by Googling the recipe. So firstly, what not to do…

Don’t ignore the difference between the size of the bird in the recipe and the size of the bird on your chopping block. I had to return the roasting dish to the oven three times before it was finally cooked all the way through. My friends were forced to content themselves with the vegetable dish and the appetizers. It was a weeknight. They left before the third firing. Who ever heard of a two-pound chicken anyway? Mine was a kosher American chicken, and it weighed a hell of a lot more than two pounds. Well, that was several months ago. I eventually got that chicken cooked and spent several days consuming it in solitude, during which time I learned a valuable lesson. The recipe is a corker.

This week I discovered the missing link: calculate twenty minutes per pound, and then add another 10-20 minutes. The Internet told me. My boss told me. I think this is common knowledge. Being a late bloomer, I learned it at about 11:00 p.m. last night. With Christmas day just around the corner, which event gives cause for Elena and me to celebrate the birth of not one but two outstanding Jews (Shoham and J.C.), I will be returning to Jamie’s signature dish, and this time I’m looking for a victory. Last night was my practice round.

The bare facts are these:

  • 4.5 lb. organic bird (in supermarkets try the kosher section)
  • 400ºF oven
  • herb butter under the breast skin, two lemons in the cavity
  • 40 minutes initial blasting
  • parboil potatoes for 5-7 minutes
  • add the veggies underneath and bake for another 60 minutes

The key is the butter and the lemons which keep everything amazingly moist. The protracted heat wave turns the skin of the chicken crispy and golden, and makes the tops of the potatoes and fennel slightly charred. Damn fine result. I always want to produce a dish in the fewest possible steps and for that you can’t go past Jamie Oliver’s recipes. Oh, and that thing about chicken cooking really fast may be true when it’s chopped up in pieces in a Thai curry, but in oven roasting land the rule is 20/lb. + 20. So now we know.

4 responses

  1. kevin bogart

    I don’t know Jamie Oliver’s exact recipe, but it’s pretty close to what I do. Nice variation: limes, and a few shots of tequila over the bird. Alcohol cooks off, but it’s a nice savory note – my friend S calls it margarita chicken! I try to do one as close to once a week as possible — economical, yummy, leftovers. Sandwiches. Cooked chicken to toss w/ veggies and pasta. Etc.

    Also — best way to avoid the “how long?” question? Get a digital thermometer with probe. Once you get the hang of where and how deep to put the probe, all your worries are over. No math, just wait until the therm beeps at 180 degrees. After a little mishap with G’s first attempt at cooking a bird w/o me where we had the same problem as in your post, we’re done with skipping on using the thermometer.

    December 25th, 2006 at 1:59 pm #

  2. Ads

    Limes and tequila sounds delicious. I will have to give that a try. Thermometer sounds like a good idea too. After the one I cooked on Christmas day I would replace one of the lemons with an orange to sweeten it up a bit.

    December 29th, 2006 at 12:27 pm #

  3. bill howebill

    I bought this gizmoe at hardware store a few years ago for roasting or barbequing chicken. Its is a metal tube 1 1/2″ diameter 7 or 8″ long attached to a base. the top half has small holes around the outside and there is a removable cap. You can place liquid and seasoning inside. The bird is supported upright through the cavity. the device is placed directly on the barbeque then the lid closed. In the oven a pan should be placed under
    the bird should be cooked very hot 400-425 F
    No matter how brown and crisp the outside of the bird becomes the inside is very very moist.

    March 20th, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

  4. lewis

    i cooked it it was fabbbbb:) gutted you lot u ovs cant cook.!

    June 7th, 2010 at 7:28 am #

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