This is a family favourite – possibly the only meal that makes all of our ‘Top 3’ lists. The lemon and bay give the meat a fragrant lift which is interesting enough to excite the grown-ups, but not so interesting as to scare off the kids. Marinate for as long as your level of organisedness allows.
Warning: there could be a small family feud over who gets the most skin.
Ingredients for 4
Free range chicken – 1.5kg/3.5lbs
Lemons – 2
Bay leaves – 15
Black pepper – 2 tblsp freshly ground
Sea salt – 1 tsp
Make sure the that the chicken cavity is empty, rinse it out and pat dry. Put the bird in a fairly tight fitting bowl and drizzle over the olive oil. Rough up the lemons to loosen their juices by rolling them on the kitchen counter and then cut them into quarters. Rub the lemon flesh over the bird, then grind the pepper over the top and add the bay leaves. Give the bird a few turns and make sure it’s evenly coated, then leave it in the fridge to marinate overnight. Recoat it a few times if you can.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°C/GM6. Take the chicken out of the bowl and keep the marinade. Rub half of the salt inside the body and stuff in the bay leaves and as many bits of lemon as you can. Rub the rest of the salt onto the skin and then put the whole bird into a roasting tin breast side down.
Roast for half an hour before basting and adding the marinade that was left over. After another half hour turn the chicken breast side up and continue cooking and basting till it’s done. You need 40 mins per kilo/2lbs plus another 20 mins. It’s cooked when you stick your knife in the thigh and the juices run clear. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 10 mins under some aluminium foil. Serve with sautéed spinach and thyme roast potatoes.