Recipe: Nigella Lawson's roast chicken with lemon, rosemary, garlic and potatoes

Roast chicken with lemon, rosemary, garlic and potatoes, from the recipe book Simply Nigella.
Roast chicken with lemon, rosemary, garlic and potatoes, from the recipe book Simply Nigella. Photo: Keiko Oikawa

I am back to familiar territory with this: the smell of chicken roasting with lemon, rosemary and garlic has always seemed to me the essence of all that is comforting. But this version is so sprightly and robust that I feel it uplifts as it soothes: it is good-mood food, and good-mood cooking, too. You just throw everything in the pan with brio and let it roast away merrily.

Store note

1. Transfer leftover cooked chicken to a container, then cover and refrigerate within two hours. Will keep in fridge for up to three days.

Freeze note

1. Cooked and cooled chicken can be frozen, in airtight containers or resealable bags, for up to two months. Defrost overnight in fridge before using.

¼ cup regular olive oil

2 tsp finely chopped rosemary needles, plus more to serve

1 bulb garlic, separated into (unpeeled) cloves

2 leeks

1kg waxy potatoes, such as kipflers, washed if necessary, but unpeeled

2 unwaxed lemons

1 medium chicken (about 1.4kg), preferably organic

sea salt flakes to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Get out the biggest roasting tin you have, and pour all but a teaspoon or so of the oil into it. Throw in the chopped rosemary needles and the garlic cloves.

2. Trim the leeks and cut each in half lengthways, then slice into half-moons and drop these leek curls into the tin, too.

3. Cut the potatoes into 1.5-centimetre slices, then cut each slice into four, or just halve them if the potatoes are small, and add these to the tin.

4. Quarter the lemons, then cut each quarter in half, take out as many pips as you can without exerting yourself unduly and toss the lemon quarters into the pan. Now schmoosh everything to mix, and then make a space in the middle of the tin for the chicken to sit in.

5. Untruss the chicken, place it in the reserved parking space, pour the tiny bit of remaining oil on top of it and sprinkle sea salt flakes on top of the chicken only. Place in the oven for one hour and 10 minutes, and if the juices of the chicken run clear when you push the tip of a knife into the joint where the thigh meets the body, remove the chicken to a board to sit, letting the juices from its cavity spill back in to the tin as you do so, then put the potato mixture back in the oven for 10 minutes until soft and golden. If the chicken needs longer, keep everything in the oven until the chicken's cooked.

6. When it's ready, and the chicken has rested, either carve it or cut into joints as wished – I find the chicken goes further if carved. If you don't want to serve the lemony, garlicky potatoes from their tin (I never mind), transfer them to a serving plate or dish and sprinkle with half a teaspoon or so of finely chopped rosemary needles and sea salt flakes to taste.

Serves 6