It's taken until the second week of October to finally get cold here in the UK, which is a sentence so unprecedented you may never see it again. But you can smell it now, that fresh crisp smell of the autumn, the smell of the cold, and as every single tumblr/pinterest post in the world is saying right now - I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. I've heard it said before that autumn is a sad time, a time when everything dies, and you know that it won't be long until dreaded January arrives but I don't mind it at all. We're being blessed with a particularly pretty autumn right now, all clear blue skies and crisp orange leaves underfoot, and I can handle the drawing in of the nights. Everything just gets a little cosier around this time of the year, and after a ridiculously busy day at work it's quite nice to have cold weather & dark evenings as an excuse to do absolutely nothing at all. Except eat, obviously.
Because man, is there a better season for food? Even without the big festivals of eating that occur this time of year, it's all just mashed everything, baked everything, spiced everything; all designed to warm and comfort and care. It's a time for going back to basics, back to the Earth, and I guess it's that whole earthiness thing about the autumn that makes me love it so much. Cause you know me, I'm a creature of simple tastes, and if you can take an old classic and make it new again without ridding it of all the things that made it so good in the first place, then that's what I'm all about. And it doesn't get more classic than roast chicken.
I made this after a crazy stressful week at work, on a Sunday where I had absolutely no plans at all (an extremely rare occurrence) except to cook and to eat. I'd never actually roasted a chicken before, or indeed any sort of beast, and it's kinda weird, isn't it?! I'm not a massive fan of the whole sticking your hand inside it thing, but you know, needs must. And after all, I've always said that if you can't handle the reality of the dead animal then you probably shouldn't be eating the dead animal in the first place.
Once you're over the whole sticking your hand inside it part, this recipe could not be simpler and I don't know why I haven't been roasting chickens every single Sunday for my entire life. The generous use of honey and butter make this quite a rich, sweet roast chicken, and served up with a side of sweet potato mash it felt like quite an American recipe too. Correct me if I'm wrong, yanks, but all those sweet buttery flavours made me feel like I could be celebrating Thanksgiving, and that's definitely not a bad thing.
- One medium sized free range chicken.
- Salt & pepper.
- 5 tablespoons of honey.
- 1 lemon.
- 1 tablespoon of butter.
- A handful of fresh thyme.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
- Season the chicken both inside and out with salt and pepper, then place in a roasting tin in the oven for about 15 minutes - until slightly browned.
- In a small bowl, combine the honey with the zest of one lemon and the juice of half of a lemon. Add in a tablespoon of butter, then pop in the microwave for about 10 seconds, just to melt the butter. Stir it all together with a fork until combined.
- After 15 minutes remove the chicken from the oven and, using a pastry brush, coat the chicken with half of your buttery lemony honey mix. Scatter over half of the thyme leaves & return to the oven for a further 30 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and brush over the remainder of the mix & remaining thyme leaves. Return to the oven for an extra 5-10 minutes, depending on how long you think it needs to be done. You'll know whether or not the chicken is done by stabbing the thickest part of the breast with a knife - if the juices run clear (and don't worry, you will be able to tell) it's good to eat.
- Remove from the oven and leave to stand for about 10 or so minutes before carving. Serve with a side of roasted mash and don't neglect the crispy, sweet, buttery skin - it's the best bit! And make sure you save your leftovers - I've recently discovered the joys of Nigel Slater's roast chicken risotto, and I assure you it's worth doing a roast just for the leftovers alone.