A family favourite with a twist – this jointed chicken with red onion and sweet peppers is hearty and sure to please. Jointing a whole chicken at home isn’t tricky, and is an excellent way of getting value for money from a whole bird. You can even make a homemade stock for soup or gravy from the carcass.
Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6. To joint the chicken, start by sitting it on a chopping board, breast-side down. Using a sharp knife, make a shallow cut all the way along the backbone. Look to see where the legs join the back of the chicken (there will be a horizontal band of whitish fat beneath the skin) and make a horizontal cut here. You will have made a cross shape.
Turn the chicken back over and pull the legs away from the body, snapping or loosening the thigh joint if you can to help release the entire leg later. Cut through the skin where the legs meet the body, then cut around the leg and thigh, following the shape of the bird’s ribcage, to remove each whole leg. This is where those first cuts into the backbone will help to separate the leg cleanly. Be sure to include the ‘oyster’ which is the piece of flesh where the leg is attached to the body, about the size of the fleshy base of your thumb. You will need to carefully cut around the oyster where it attached to the body, keeping each one with its corresponding leg.
Break the leg tips by bending them back on themselves firmly and cut through the skin to release them, leaving the drumstick bone exposed on each leg. Now separate the drumstick from the thigh, cutting through the diagonal line of fat and snapping the joint before cutting through it completely. You should be left with two thighs with oysters attached and two drumsticks.
Remove the breasts from the carcass. Starting on one side of the breastbone (the prominent bone between the two breasts), follow the shape of the carcass closely to get as much flesh off as possible and gradually cut the breast away to just above where the legs used to be. Using very strong scissors or poultry shears, cut through the ribs that the breast remains attached to. Turn the chicken over and cut along the line of fat at the base of the breast with the scissors, releasing it completely with the wing still attached to the breast. Repeat on the other side.
Slice through each breast on the diagonal, so that one portion has the wing joint attached and one portion is breast only. Use the carcass for chicken stock if you wish (carcasses can be frozen in freezer bags ready to make a batch of stock when convenient).
Put the chicken pieces in a large baking dish or sturdy roasting tin with the red onion, peppers and thyme sprigs. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, making sure the chicken pieces are roughly nestled on top, skin-side up. Sprinkle with red wine vinegar and roast, uncovered, for 55 minutes-1 hour, basting with the juices halfway through, until the chicken skin is golden and crisp and the juices run clear if a thigh or a leg is pierced with a skewer.
Freezing and defrosting guidelines
Once the dish has cooled completely, transfer it to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 1-3 months. To serve, defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating. Loosely cover with foil and bake until dish is thoroughly heated through. Reheat until piping hot.
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For top tips on protecting you and your family when preparing raw meat and poultry, visit Food Safety in the Home.