If you sometimes feel depressed or let down, if you're suffering from the pressures of life, or simply having a plain old grey day, my advice is to roast a chicken.
I'm not precisely sure why, but there is, and always has been, some magical 'cure-all' involved in the whole process. Sometimes you need to turn your back on the complications of life, give yourself some space and become homespun and happy for just a couple of hours.
What is proper, old-fashioned chicken?
1 The first thing we need to be concerned with is breeding. The bird has to be slow-growing, or rather it has to grow naturally, as nature intended. It must have a reasonable life span – not less than 81 days.
2 It needs (to use a modern phrase) to have its own space and not live in overcrowded conditions.
3 It has to be truly free range. There is, in this country, a bit of a free-range fantasy that has been put about. If you buy a chicken that is labelled 'free range', what that can mean is 'sort-of free range'. We have a kind of cock-eyed labelling law that includes three types of 'free-range' chickens. Without going into details, my advice is to forget the words 'free range' on their own, which don't indicate the best-flavoured chicken, and look for the words Traditional Free Range or, in some cases, Free Range Total Freedom.
The best type of chicken is truly free to range, to have 24-hour access to the outdoors, to breathe fresh air, to have access to a large meadow, field or orchard, to peck and scratch about and to have a truly natural existence; to be protected from foxes and other vermin by an electric security fence; to have shelter from the weather when needed; to have a place to roost and a plentiful supply of grain and fresh water.
4 The next question to ask is, has it been dry-plucked? Real chicken does not get dunked into hot water. For the flavour to be at its best, dry-plucking is the optimum process.
5 A little age adds a lot of flavour! This old adage was never more true. If you hang a chicken with its guts intact in a controlled temperature it will, like cheese, mature naturally, which will concentrate the flavour.
I repeat, I'm all for progress, but I've never wanted good food to be only for the privileged few who are in the know. What I've observed is that the very best food producers in the world today are those who use traditional skills and methods alongside the latest technology.