Ingredients (serves 4-6)
- 1 large (2kg) free-range chicken
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- 1 fresh thyme sprig
- 2 garlic cloves, (peeled)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6.
- Blend together the olive oil, rosemary, thyme and garlic using a pestle and mortar or a food processor until it forms a smooth paste.
- Slather the chicken in the paste, season with a generous pinch of salt and black pepper and place in a roasting tin.
- Roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until the juices run clear when you insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh.
- Remove the chicken from the oven. Cover in foil and rest for a few minutes before carving.
- For added calcium, try serving the chicken with a sauce made from 6tbsp natural yogurt, 1tsp hot sauce and a spicy oil mixture of 2tbsp sunflower oil, a handful of coriander, a green chilli, the juice and zest of one lime and salt and black pepper. Blend the oil mixture with a pestle and mortar or food processor, stir together with the yogurt and hot sauce and serve on top of the chicken.
Fancy cutting up your chicken before roasting? Look no further than this video.
Chef says “This recipe ensures the skin is salty and crispy, while the meat is moist and full of herby, aromatic flavour” Donal Skehan (donalskehan.com)
Which Chicken Should You Buy?
Indoor Minimum age: 33-38 days (depending on size)
Guide price per kg £2.50
The cheapest chickens are totally deprived of natural light and access to the outdoors, with up to 20 birds crammed into every square metre of farm floor space. Manufacturers often deliberately confuse the issue by giving them misleading labels such as ‘farm fresh’ or ‘premium’, which are meaningless. Even the apparent value for money is a false economy, given the trade-off in nutrients and flavour.
Free range Minimum age 56 days
Guide price per kg £4.50
These chicks have to have an outdoor area to roam about in for at least half their lives – although there’s no regulation on their diets, which means you’ll probably still inadvertently ingest additives from grain. The extra living space ensures that their meat is leaner and tastier than that of regular chickens and its vitamin and mineral content is above average, while the birds themselves live a (relatively) happy life.
Red Tractor Minimum age 33-38 days (depending on size)
Guide price per kg £3
This scheme sets baseline production standards for intensively farmed poultry, including a limit of no more than 17-18 chicks per square metre. While this certainly helps make their lives slightly better, the lack of natural light and open space still has a significant negative impact on the meat’s quality, making it fattier and lower in omega 3.
Organic Minimum age 81 days
Guide price per kg £6.50
The king of chickens, albeit with a price to match. Organic birds are exclusively fed grain that’s free from synthetic fillers and additives, and live on farms where they can forage on pastureland. This improves both their quality of life and the flavour of their meat, reducing its fat content by up to 50% and providing large amounts of heart-healthy vitamin E, energy-enhancing iron and recovery-boosting omega 3.