Make any dinner special when you serve slow-cooked chicken as the main course. The flavourful meat may taste like you spent hours slaving away in the kitchen, but your secret is that there is very little prep time involved. Whether you start with a fresh, free-range chicken from your local butcher's shop or a thoroughly defrosted bird from the supermarket, slow roasting develops rich flavours. Add your favourite side dishes to make a complete meal. If there are any leftovers, make sure you wrap them well and refrigerate for chicken salad, a sandwich or lunch platter within a day or two.
Rinse the chicken under cool running water. Let the water flow over both the outside and the inner cavity. Set the chicken on paper towels to drain and pat with more paper towels to dry thoroughly.
Rinse three stalks of celery. Place the stalks lengthwise in the bottom of a baking pan, one in the centre and the other two about 5 cm (2 inches) away from the centre on either side. This forms a natural baking rack that allows air and moisture to circulate as the chicken slow cooks. Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil over the celery.
Set the chicken in the pan, centred on the celery stalks and breast side up. Drip 1 tbsp olive oil on the chicken, distributing it over the breast, drumsticks and wings. Rub the oil around with your fingertips to completely coat the chicken. Wash and dry your hands, then sprinkle 1 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp black pepper over the chicken's surface.
Cover the chicken with aluminium foil, crimping the foil tight around the baking pan edges. Place in an oven preheated to 121 degrees Celsius (250 degrees Fahrenheit). Set a kitchen timer for 2 1/2 hours and walk away.
Take the roasting pan out of the oven when the timer goes off. Remove the aluminium foil. Scoop up drippings in the bottom of the pan with a large spoon and drizzle the liquid over the chicken. Repeat until all parts of the chicken are thoroughly covered.
Return the uncovered chicken to the oven. Turn the heat up to 191 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit). Set the timer for 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven. Insert a food thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and test that the internal temperature is over 73.9 degrees Celsius (165 degrees Fahrenheit). If necessary, cover the chicken loosely with aluminium foil and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, then test again. Otherwise, let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Place a dozen peeled garlic cloves or a lemon cut in quarters into the chicken cavity before slow-cooking to give the chicken different flavours.
Wash your hands thoroughly after drying the chicken. Wash again after each time you touch the raw meat before touching any other item. Wash the worktop and any other surface the chicken touches.