Roast Chicken

I always roast chicken in a self-basting roaster. It always produces wonderfully fragrant, moist flesh (admittedly, I always buy good-quality free-range chickens, which helps!).

Ingredients

Rinse chicken in cold water and pat dry.

Into the cavity of the bird place either an onion or a half a lemon.

Rub the skin with either butter or olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

Place the chicken in the roasting dish.

Cook at Gas Mark 5 for the appropriate time (20 minutes per lb, plus 20 minutes).

Remove the chicken from the roaster and place on dish. Rest the poor soul for ten minutes before dismembering.

Reserve the juices to make stock.

Variations:

Spice-roasted chicken: Grind one teaspoon each of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds with a few saffron strands, quarter teaspoon dried chilli flakes or chlli powder; mix into 100g soft butter with 1 teaspoon of sea salt and the juice of one lemon. Rub all over chicken before roasting. Lovely with Cucumber Raita

Tarragon chicken: Sprinkle chopped tarragon over the chicken at the "rub the skin with butter" stage The taste of French tarragon is vastly superior to Russian tarragon, but not so easy to come by.

Garlic chicken: Place a few unpeeled garlic cloves in the roasting dish. When these are cooked, they will have infused a light garlicky taste to the chicken, and the cloves can be squished from their skins and eaten: they won't taste garlicky at all, but sweet and gorgeous - honestly.

Brodo di Pollo (Chicken Stock)

Whenever I roast a chicken, I save the resulting juices and freeze them for chicken stock, removing any fat.

To make the stock, place in a saucepan such defrosted juices: three carrots; one onion, peeled and stuck with 3 cloves; 2 sticks chopped celery; a teaspoon of crushed peppercorns; and a handful of parsley stalks.

Add a pint of water, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour or two.

Strain the resulting liquid.