A whole bird, seasoned with just salt and pepper and maybe some lemon halves, undergoes an alchemy in a hot oven,

emerging crispy, bronzed and much more delicious than you’d expect – with just five minutes or so of effort.

But don’t stop there: the mild flavour of chicken is compatible with almost any spice. Experiment with your favourite herbs, spices and sauces, using these variations as a guideline.

And for a complete meal, try making an edible “roasting rack” for the chicken to sit and cook on, using your choice of sliced onions, fennel, carrots, celery and potatoes.

1 whole chicken (organic if possible), patted dry
and giblets removed • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground pepper • 2 lemons, halved (optional)