How to Cook Perfect Roast Chicken
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F or 190°C. Season the free range chicken all over with salt and black pepper, arrange 7 of 8 rashers of streaky bacon slightly overlapping in a row along the breast, cut the last rasher in half and place one piece on each leg. You can remove the rind if you prefer.
Place the chicken in the oven on the middle shelf and cook for 20 minutes per 1lb (450gm) plus 10-20 minutes extra, so this will be 1 hour 50 minutes to 2 hours for a 5lb (2.25kg) chicken or 2 hours 10 minutes to 2 hours 20 minutes for a 6lb (2.7kg) chicken.
The chicken is properly cooked when the juices run clear, when the thickest part of the leg is pierced with a skewer. Remember to baste the chicken three times during the cooking, spooning the juices mingling with the bacon fat helps to keep the flesh succulent. During the last basting (half an hour before the chicken is cooked) remove the crisp bacon rashers and keep them warm.
For the final 15 minutes blast the heat up to gas mark 7, 425°F or 220°C and this will give the skin the golden crispness.
When the chicken is cooked leave it in the warm kitchen near the oven, covered in foil for 30 minutes to allow it to relax. This allows the previous juices to seep back into the flesh and will make the chicken easier to carve.