How to roast chicken
1. For a family roast chicken, weighing about 5 lb (2.25 kg), make a stuffing by combining in a food processor 1 peeled, cored and quartered dessert apple, 1 heaped tablespoon of fresh sage leaves, 1 peeled and quartered small onion, 4 oz (110 g) of fresh white bread, crusts removed, 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley leaves, the chicken livers, 8 oz (225 g) of minced pork or good-quality pork sausagemeat, ¼ teaspoon of powdered mace, salt and freshly milled black pepper.
2. To make the stock for the gravy, the chicken giblets are simmered for 2 hours in 1½ pints (850 ml) water with 1 medium, roughly chopped carrot, half an onion, a few fresh parsley stalks, a sprig of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, ½ teaspoon of black peppercorns and a pinch of salt.
3. To stuff the chicken, begin at the neck end where you will find a flap of loose skin: gently loosen this away from the breast and pack about two-thirds of the stuffing inside. Make a neat round shape on the outside then tuck the neck flap under the bird's back and secure it with a cocktail stick or small skewer. Take the remaining stuffing and place it in the body cavity.
4. Place the chicken in the roasting tin and smear 2 oz (50 g) of softened butter all over the chicken with your hands. Season the chicken all over with salt and freshly milled black pepper then arrange 7 rashers of smoked streaky bacon in a row along the breast. Cut one extra rasher in two and place a piece on each leg.
5. Roast in the centre of a pre-heated oven, gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C), for 20 minutes per lb (450 g) plus 10-20 minutes extra – this will be 1 hour and 50 minutes to 2 hours for a 5 lb (2.25 kg) bird. Baste three times during the cooking time. During the last basting, remove the crisped bacon rashers and keep them warm. For the final 15 minutes of cooking, increase the heat to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C) to give the skin that final golden crispiness. When it is cooked, remove it from the oven and cover it with foil. Leave to rest for 30 minutes before serving.
6. The sauce is very easy – all you do here is combine 6 tablespoons of cranberry jelly, 2 dessertspoons of chopped fresh sage, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and some salt and freshly milled black pepper in a small saucepan. Whisk over a gentle heat until the cranberry jelly has melted. Pour the sauce into a serving jug and leave till needed (it won't need reheating – it's served at room temperature).
7. Make the gravy – with the pan juices and the giblet stock – to serve with the chicken.
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