I have had a revelation. Not quite Paul on the road to Damascus (although there is a Paul in the story), more like Newton on the road to chicken heaven. You see, I love roast chicken. A well cooked organic chicken that has had a good life before its one bad day is a splendid meal.
I’m with Stephanie Alexander when she writes ‘…I am never unmoved by the sight of a roast chicken.’ Amen to that. But now I can help you make it even better. In one word. Brining. And it is so simple.
First buy your chicken. See above. Wash it and pat it dry. Now put it in an inert container – a stainless steel or ceramic or enamel pot – large enough hold the chook and enough water to entirely cover it.
Now cover it with the water into which you have stirred two tablespoons of cooking salt for every litre of water. I’d suggest doing it a litre at a time until it’s covered.
Now add any spice you fancy to the brine. Star anise, white pepper, cloves, juniper berries, make up your own spice mix.
Cover the pot and put it in the fridge overnight.
The next day, take it out, pat it completely dry and cook it the way you normally do. Me, I pre-heat the oven to 200°C, lay some slabs of butter on the breast, slide some French tarragon between the flesh and the skin, more in the cavity with a half a lemon and cook until the juices run clear – about an hour/ an hour and a quarter for a 1.8kg bird, basting every 15 minutes.
One more trick. When you take it out to rest it, turn it upside down. With the legs facing down. Cover with foil and leave it a good twenty minutes.
I recently had a few friends around for Sunday lunch and one said “when you said we were having roast chicken, I thought hoe boring. But that was sensational.” Try it. Your roast chook will be flavoursome and even the breast will be moist. You’ll thank me. Just as I’m thanking my mate who told me about it. His name is Paul.