Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Perfect Roast Chicken

The perfect roast chicken requires a tiny amount of effort. Everyone knows that it is not difficult or time consuming or even an extraordinary culinary feat, and in the days following Christmas I crave plain simple, wholesome food. However what you can do is you can raise your game with a few additions and create an extra moist, tender flavoursome comforting dish. Perfect roast chicken guarantee’s the opportunity for your own bisto family meal moment .. nothing but the sound of clattering knives and forks and the conversation stops.. just for that delicious moment as everyone dives in. Savour that moment.

Personally I love freerange and if possible organic. I like to think that the bird I am eating had a joyous pre roast time - pecking, running foraging and enjoying some of life’s basics. However, I do understand that in the real world not everyone can afford to shell out the extra money for an extra happy conscious flavour to their chicken. There are other options such as Freedom food and the RSPCA’s higher welfare standards. Just do the best you can.

It’s the additional flavours that really give my chicken the edge. For me it has to be lemon, garlic and bay leaf, and a good glug of white wine at the end of cooking. I always stuff the garlic and bay leaves under the skin of the breast and smother the skin in olive oil and rather allot of sea salt. I sometimes sprinkle a teaspoon of Coleman’s mustard powder over the skin too.

The absolute best tip I can give is to peel the lemon ( or sometimes an orange.) Pop the peel inside the bird and keep the juice back to the end to add to the gravy For a pretty effect you can slice lemons and scatter over the chicken before you serve - but by just using the lemon zest you avoid the slight bitter taste from the pith when you roast the lemons whole. It really does make for a far nicer tasting gravy.

For me it’s just obligatory to serve roast chicken with large dollops of creamy mashed potato, petit pois and butter glazed carrots but however you enjoy your roast chicken if you can roast two and the same time the left over one gets you prepped for several other meals to come getting me a step further ahead for the next meal The best linked recipe for the leftovers is Pho Ga .. delicious and easy to make.

The Prefect Roast Chicken Recipe

Preparation 10 minutes

Cooking 1hour 30 minutes

Freezes - yes

A Large Chicken about 1.6kg

3 tablespoons of olive oil or rapeseed oil

2 teaspoons of good quality sea salt

5- 6 cloves of Garlic

Zest of two lemons peeled & juice

1 tsp Colemans Mustard

Glass of wine ( 140 ml)

½ teaspoon of sugar

30 ml of single cream

2 Bay leaves

2 / 3 tablespoons of corn starch

Fresh basil & slices of lemon to garnish


1 Pre heat the oven to 240°C/475°F/gas 9

2 Place the bay leaves and garlic and lemon zest inside the cavity and some under the chicken breast skin. Drizzle over and rub in the oil and sprinkle salt and mustard powder over the top of the chicken.

3 Drop the temperature to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and cook the chicken for 1 hour.

4 Baste the chicken with the juices. Add a glass of wine. After 20 more minutes in the oven you can check that is cooked by inserting a skewer in the thigh and making sure that the juices are clear. If they are still pink return to the oven for ten more minutes and repeat the test.

5 Remove the chicken from the baking pan and set to one side to rest. A few minutes rest are important in order to allow the meat to relax, it will be much tenderer as a result. In the mean time set to on making the gravy. Strain the liquid into a gravy separator returning the juice back to the original baking pan. Over a medium heat add the last of the lemon juice, and stir in the sugar. I do always taste here, and can add more or less sugar, salt or water depending on my tastes.

6 Use the corn flour and make it into a watery paste. Add it in whilst stirring to thicken the sauce. It is best cook this through for a minute or so. For a more voluptuous sauce, just before serving stir in two or three tablespoons of cream to and stir. Slice the meat and cover in this lemon infused gravy and as you serve scatter chopped basil.

Linked Recipes

Pho Ga


  1. Yum! That sounds amazing, will definitely try the mustard trick!

  2. Thanks for the really good tip here! I just did a roast chicken yesterday and I stuffed in lemon quarters in, the gravy I made the juice from the pan was bitter! I will use just the zest next time xxx


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