Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas: Kid Friendly Roast Chicken (& Gravy) Recipe

A well roasted chicken is one of the most simple, easy and spectacular dinners you can make. It only takes a little bit of preparation, and then dinner cooks itself, so don’t be put off by the ‘roast’ word. Purchasing a whole chicken is much cheaper per kilo than any of the individual cuts (breast, thigh etc), and generally there is leftovers for sandwiches the next day, which makes this perfect for people on a budget. Kids typically love chicken, particularly the drum sticks, as they can use their hands to eat, so roast chicken really is a kid friendly meal.

Roast Chicken Ingredients

  • 1 x 1.8kg chicken (preferably fresh and free range)
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Fresh sprigs of thyme (if you don’t have any you can leave this out)
  • 1 lemon

Roast Chicken Method

If you can’t find a fresh free range chicken, then the next best option is a frozen free range chicken. If you purchase a frozen chicken, ensure that you defrost the bird, covered, in the fridge on a plate with plenty of paper towel (or better yet a defrosting tray to lift the chicken off the plate and ensure that it doesn’t sit in its liquid) until it is completely defrosted (this can take up to 2 days). Never cook an un-defrosted chicken as this could expose you to the risk of salmonella.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Prepare a baking dish by lining it with foil. If you have a trivet or oven proof rack, lightly spray it with vegetable oil, then place inside the baking dish to lift the chicken off the base of the baking dish; this will allow air flow underneath the chicken to ensure much more even cooking.

Remove the chicken from its wrapping, remove any giblets from the cavity (if any) and thoroughly wipe with paper towel, inside the cavity and all over the skin, to dry the chicken (you need to ensure that the skin is as dry as possible to ensure a crisp roast).

Cut the lemon in half and place half the lemon and a couple of sprigs of thyme inside the cavity. Take a few knobs of butter and smear liberally across the skin and inside the cavity. Sprinkle the skin with sea salt. Using kitchen twine or skewers, secure the legs and wings of the chicken so that the cavity is closed and the legs and wings are held tight against the bird.

Place the chicken in the baking dish, and bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1.5 hours, until cooked. To tell if the chicken is cooked or not, simply insert a skewer or small sharp knife into the thickest part of the thigh of the chicken. If the juices that run out are clear, then the chicken is cooked. If they are red, or slightly pink, then continue cooking, checking every 10 minutes or so until the juices run clear.

Remove the baking tray from the oven, and cover the chicken with foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes, then carve and serve with roast potatoes, steamed vegies and gravy (please do not serve gravox, or any other ‘instant’ gravy, this will definitely spoil your roast chicken, and it only takes a few minutes to make your own while the chicken is resting).

Gravy Ingredients

  • Juices from bottom of chicken baking tray (approx 1/2 cup)
  • Plain flour
  • Chicken stock and/or white wine, or a mixture of both (approximately 300-400ml)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Gravy Method

To make the worlds best gravy, simply pour the juices from the bottom of the chicken baking tray into a small saucepan. Allow to come to the boil, then add 1-2 tablespoons of plain flour and whisk into the juices. The flour should absorb all of the juices and form a paste. Cook the flour paste over a low-medium heat for a few minutes, whisking frequently to cook out the ‘raw’ flour flavour.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, add a splash of wine (or stock if you aren’t using wine), then whisk rapidly to remove any lumps. At this stage, the heat will reduce any liquid added and the paste will remain pretty much the same. Add stock in a steady drizzle, whisking constantly until the paste becomes smooth and quite liquid. Return the saucepan to the heat and whisk over a low-medium heat until the gravy boils and thickens slightly. Remove from the heat, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.