Roast Chicken

This is meant to be day one of feeding a greedy family of four for three meals from one chicken (see 3 Meal Chicken). There should be a third to a half a bird left. To eat at one sitting this will serve up to eight people at a pinch


  • 2.2 Kg / 4 ½lb Free Range Chicken with giblets
  • 1 medium onion
  • 25g / 1oz butter
  • 2 tbs white bread crumbs
  • 2 good pork sausages or 100g sausage meat
  • 1 tbs chopped sage
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 5 rashers streaky bacon
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 black pepper corns
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • soy sauce (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 170 °C / Gas Mark 4.

Untruss the chicken: they are usually tied up with string or elastic, cutting this this gives more even cooking and makes it easier to get the giblets out. Next sort the gibblets. The neck and heart can go in a small pan for the stock, while the liver will be part of the stuffing. Half the onion and finely chop one half. The unchopped half goes in the stock pan (you can even leave the skin on, it gives colour).

For the stuffing fry the chopped onion gently in the butter until soft. Allow to cool, then combine with breadcrumbs, sausagemeat, the liver finely chopped, sage and lemon zest. If you are extracting your sausage meat from sausages, slit the skin down their length and peel it off; trying to squeeze the meat out of a sausage is awkward. At the neck end of the chicken poke your fingers in and seperate the skin from the breast for half a finger's length beyond where it was initially attached. With the chicken on its back, squeeze the stuffing into the neck end, forcing some into the newly acquired space under the skin. Fold the skin down and secure with it with a couple of cocktail sticks.

Turn the bird breast side up and put into a roasting tin. Squidge the stuffed part into a neat shape, following the rest of the breast. Spread the bacon over the breast, particularly covering the stuffed part. Why five slices? Well, my theory is one each plus one for the carver. If there are more than four of you, just be sure that there is at least one rasher each! Cook for a total of 1 ¾ hours. After 1 hour take off the bacon and keep warm. Baste the chicken and pour a glass of white wine into the roasting tin. To check for doneness give a leg a wobble: the thigh joint should have relaxed. It is no disaster if you overcook a bit as a good chicken this size has a bit of fat and will not dry out.

While the chicken is cooking make the giblet stock with the neck and heart, half onion, a bay leaf and 6 black peppercorns, using 500ml / 1 pint water. Once the chicken is out of the oven and resting under foil, skim most of the fat off the juice in the pan. Sprinkle the flour over, stir and bring to the boil, scraping up any nice dark bits on the pan. Strain the stock into the pan and let the gravy simmer while you are carving. If you think it looks a bit pale, add a dash of soy sauce.

If you are planning more meals from this chicken, eat all the stuffing and bacon while it is hot with whatever bits of chicken you fancy. Save any bones in the fridge for stock.