This versatile bird goes well with a number of flavours and spices, making it one of the most popular meats to cook with. There are lots of ways to cook it, and it's low in saturated fat.
All year round though a spring chicken will be tender and juicy.
How to cook
If you're roasting a whole chicken, allow 25 minutes for every 500 grams, and add an extra 25 minutes and cook in a pre-heated oven at 200C/Gas Mark 6. Breasts take around 15 minutes and thighs and wings around 40. Make sure that the meat is cooked through and there is no pink left. When roasting a whole bird, prick the thickest part of the joint, and check that the juices run clear.
The more money you can afford to spend will give you a better-quality bird that has been reared with more freedom to run around. Look out for organic, or for a label that gives you an idea of where the chicken was raised. When buying chicken look for meat that has clear skin, that doesn't have any tears or bruising.
When preparing chicken, take care to cook it thoroughly. Make sure that any surfaces, including your hands that come into contact with raw chicken, are properly cleaned. Chicken should be at room temperature before cooking, leave an hour for a whole chicken to come up to temperature and 30 minutes for a cut.
Whole birds, tend to be tied or ‘trussed', this string should be removed before cooking.
All chicken should be kept in the fridge. Whole and jointed chicken will keep up to 2 days. Chicken mince or livers should be cooked within 24 hours of buying.
Simply roasting a whole chicken, is fantastically economical. A large bird will feed a family or four, and you can use the leftovers to make speedy lunches in the week. Wrapping chicken in pancetta will before roasting will keep it moist during cooking. Try stuffing chicken thighs with a little blue cheese and wrapping in pancetta or bacon, for a speedy and smart dinner party main course.