There are few dishes more fundamental than a good roast chicken, the basics of which follow two important principles. The first is to never overcook it. Chicken is full of flavour but it has a reputation for being dry because we're terrified of under-cooking it, so we go way too far the other way. If you have to make a trade-off between crispy-brown skin and succulent, tender chicken, go for tender every time.
1.6kg free-range chicken
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 brown onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
10 sprigs thyme
1 bunch baby Dutch carrots, peeled and trimmed (with some stalk remaining)
2 cups frozen peas
1. Boil a kettle of water and place the chicken on a rack in your sink. Pour freshly boiled water all over the skin of the chicken to tighten it. Remove any papery dead skin.
2. Rub the skin with dark soy sauce and stand for at least 30 minutes (preferably four hours or longer), so the soy sauce dyes the skin and dries. (If leaving the chicken for more than two hours, keep it uncovered in the fridge, then return to room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting.) The soy sauce helps to give the chicken skin colour and flavour when it roasts, so you don't need to overcook the flesh in search of tasty skin.
3. Heat your oven to 180C fan-forced. Scatter the onion carrot and half the garlic in a roasting dish and place the chicken on top.
4. Season well with salt, inside and out. Place the thyme into the bird's cavity with the remaining garlic and tie the legs together.
5. Roast the chicken for 55 minutes, then increase the heat to 220C fan-forced and roast for a further 10 minutes until the skin is well browned and the internal temperature at the thickest part of the thigh reaches 65C. Remove the chicken and rest for at least 15 minutes in a warm place, basting once with the collected oils to gloss the skin.
6. Do not discard ingredients and juices in the pan. For the baby carrots and peas, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the carrots, return to the boil, then add the peas. Boil the vegetables for 2-3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon.
7. Serve the chicken and vegetables with mashed potatoes and chicken gravy.