This is a great alternative to the party food normally given to children. The roast vegetable chips give it a bit of a healthy twist. Do get an organic chicken and don’t be tempted by the £2 ones out there. Not only do organic ones taste much better, look at it from your child’s perspective – any child would prefer to eat a happy chicken.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/gas 6. Soak 24 wooden skewers in a bowl of cold water. Finely grate the zest from the lemon and mix with the softened butter. Put half the thyme sprigs to one side, and pick the leaves off the remaining sprigs. Mix the thyme leaves with the lemony butter and season with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken in a roasting tray and rub all over with the flavoured butter. Drizzle with a good lug of olive oil. Slice the lemon in half and, with the thyme sprigs, stuff into the cavity of the chicken. Add the garlic to the tray and roast in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and golden brown (when pierced with a knife, the juices should run clear).
Meanwhile, cut the root vegetables into large, even-sized chips. Parboil the potatoes and carrots for 6 minutes in salted, boiling water and, after 3 minutes, add the sweet potatoes. Drain in a colander and allow to steam dry for a few minutes. Spread the chips on a baking sheet in a single layer, drizzle with a little olive oil and lightly season with salt. Toss lightly and, when the chicken has been in the oven for half an hour, slide in the baking sheet so the chicken and vegetables can roast together for the final 45 minutes.
Lay out your bacon rashers and glide over them with the back of your knife to stretch them a little – this will prevent them from shrinking when they cook. Wrap each chipolata with a bacon rasher, then thread 2 chipolatas on to each skewer in little U-shapes. After the chicken has had 45 minutes in the oven, take it out and arrange the sausage skewers around it. Place it back in the oven for another 30 minutes until the chicken is golden brown and cooked and the sausages are crispy and sticky.
Leave the chicken to rest for 10 minutes, then place it in a large dish and arrange the root vegetable chips and sausage skewers around it. It’s lovely served with steamed green broccoli and peas – delicious.
Some children may ask for gravy – you can make a quick one by skimming off the fat in the roasting tray, then placing the tray on the hob. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of flour and some stock until thickened, and strain through a sieve.