The one recipe everyone needs to learn: roast chicken, plus an easy one-dish meal for when the cooler weather comes

This basic means not only a delicious dinner, but loads of leftovers for lunch the next day - and the one after that

Susan Ramsay |

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Learn to make roast chicken, and your friends will be begging to come to your dorm

Chicken is usually inexpensive and can make a very tasty meal.  Plus, you can use the leftovers in sandwiches, soup or casserole, or just pick from the bones for a cold chicken salad.

Always make sure your chicken is fresh – you will be able to smell if it is not. If you’re using a whole chicken, you need to put your hand inside the bird to pull out the neck and liver, which are placed there during the butchering process. Rinse the bird under a gently running cold tap, making sure to rinse out the cavities from the top and bottom of the bird, being sure you don’t splash water anywhere. Run your fingers around inside to make sure nothing is left behind. Pat it dry thoroughly with a paper towel and throw the towel away. Wipe down any counter or cutting-board surfaces with hot soapy water.

I prefer my chicken to be cooked through. Any hint of pink sends me scurrying back to the kitchen to cook it a bit longer. Under-cooking chicken is not unusual in Hong Kong, but I’m not convinced it’s healthy. You make up your own mind.

Let’s roast that bird!

Roast chicken 

Roasting a chicken is the easiest way of cooking it, and unless you burn it, it’s pretty much foolproof. You can use precut pieces, but a whole bird is best. Have some aluminium foil handy – if you think the end of the wings and drumsticks might burn, you’ll need to cover them.

whole chicken, cleaned and dried thoroughly (it must be thawed if it was frozen)
salt and pepper
any flavourings you like, such as fresh or dry herbs (oregano and/or thyme work well), lemon juice or garlic

You’ll also need a roasting pan with a rack, and butcher’s string.

1 Set the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. While it is heating, salt the chicken inside and out, and add as much pepper as you like to the outside. Add 
2 you can also tie the chicken’s legs together to make it easier to turn. Using the butcher’s string, make a loop around one leg, near the bony end of the drumstick. Pull the other drumstick’s bony end across the body, and secure them together. (If you don’t want to do this, just be sure to put the chicken breast-side-up on the rack so you don’t have to turn it.) 
3 Put the tied chicken breast-side-down on the rack. Pour a cup of water into the roasting pan (it shouldn’t touch the chicken). Cook for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 175 degrees and continue to cook for roughly 30 minutes per kilo.
4 Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, remove the roasting tray from the oven. Using a chopstick or large fork, carefully turn the bird over so the breast is facing up.
5 Turn up the heat to 220 degrees and put the chicken back in the oven to crisp the skin.

One-dish chicken bake

Chicken pieces of your choice
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup rice
1 1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp oregano
1/3 cup cheese (grated)
1 cup baby carrots sliced
2 cups broccoli cut into florets

Cheesy, chickeny goodness you can just chuck together


1 Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a baking dish, mix soup, rice, water, pepper, lemon juice, oregano and vegetables. 
2 Season the chicken pieces and place on top of the soup mixture. Cover with lid or aluminium foil and bake for 50 minutes.
3 Remove from the oven, sprinkle cheese over chicken. Cover again and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove and stir together before serving.