Preheat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Unwrap the chicken and remove the giblets (see our tip on how to make the most of them). Pop the chicken on a large plate and set it aside for 30 mins-1 hr to come to room temperature.
Prick the lemon all over with a fork and place it inside the chicken cavity. You can also tuck the chicken neck from the giblets into the cavity to add richness. Trim, peel and thinly slice the onions and pop them in a snug roasting tin. Peel and finely slice the garlic cloves and add to the onions with the rosemary. Place the chicken on top of the onions, garlic and rosemary. You can truss it with kitchen string, if liked.
Drizzle the garlic olive oil over the chicken and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Gently rub the oil and seasoning in the chicken. Slide the chicken into the oven.
Roast the chicken for 1 hr. After 1 hr, remove the tin from the oven and baste the chicken with some of the roasting juices. Roast for 30 mins more till golden and the juices run clear when you pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. If the juices are still a little pink, roast for a further 5-10 mins and check again.
Remove the chicken from the roasting tin, place it on a warm board or plate and loosely cover with foil. Rest for 30 mins-1 hr. Keep the roasting tin to make gravy in it.
While the chicken rests, fill and boil your kettle. Crumble the stock cube into a heatproof jug and pour in 600ml hot water. Stir to dissolve the stock cube.
Put the roasting tin on a hob set to a medium heat. Lift out the rosemary sprigs and discard them, but keep the onions and garlic in the tin. Add the butter and swirl round the pan to melt it. Tip in the flour and stir it into the butter and onions, scrapping any crunchy bits up off the roasting tin. Cook and sir for 2 mins.
Splash a little stock into the tin and stir to combine it with the onions and flour. When it is smoothly combined, add a splash more stock and repeat. Keep adding stock and stirring till all the stock is smoothly combined. Pour in any juices from the resting chicken. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down a little and simmer for 5-10 mins till the gravy has thickened slightly. Carve the chicken and serve with the gravy on the side.
A giblet stock is easy to make – just pop the giblets in a large pan with a sliced onion, chopped carrot, celery, a bay leaf and a few sprigs of thyme and parsley. Add 2 ltrs water. Cover, bring to the boil, then simmer for 2 hrs. Strain into a sealable container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. This stock is perfect for adding to soups, risottos and gravies.
Low waste, no waste
But wait! Your leftover chicken carcass can also be used to make a nourishing, versatile stock. Search for How to Make Your Own Stocks on abelandcole.co.uk/recipes for instructions.
If you receive your chicken on a Monday or Tuesday and want to save it for your Easter Sunday roast, check the date on the chicken. You may need to freeze it, then defrost it overnight in the fridge, ready for roasting.