Get the best chicken you can afford, and you’ll have a delicious Sunday lunch on your hands in little over an hour.
1 chicken, about 1.8kg
3 carrots, peeled
1 lemon, halved
4 rashers of streaky bacon (optional)
The day before you want to serve it, sprinkle the chicken inside and out with salt. Put it on a deep dish, cover with a tea towel, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5. Brush any excess salt off the chicken. Put three evenly sized carrots in the bottom of a roasting tin. Pop the chicken on top, and give it an hour to come up to room temperature.
Just before roasting, lay the bacon slices over the breast, if you are using them. Squeeze the lemon over and push the skins inside the cavity of the chicken. Roast the chicken for 1 hour – 1 hour 10 minutes until golden and when you stick a knife in the flesh between the leg and the breast the juices run clear or just palest pink (it will finish cooking as it rests).
Baste the bird occasionally during cooking. If there is not enough fat or juices in the tin, then use a little melted butter. Take the chicken out of the tin and leave to rest in a warm place for half an hour or so while you make the gravy.
Sauces for chicken
Bread sauce is traditional with chicken as well as turkey, though a good gravy is generally all that is expected. That said, a bowl of nutmeg-scented, creamy bread sauce will make the cook very popular – and make the meat go further.
To make enough for 4-6 people, heat half a pint of milk with 1 tbsp butter, a chopped onion, a clove and a bayleaf. Bring to the boil, leave to cool and then strain. Return to the pan and add 60g breadcrumbs plus a good grating of nutmeg and heat until thickened. Stir in a dollop of cream if you have it, or else a splash more milk and a knob of butter. Taste and season.