Roasting a Chicken


I don’t think I have got this right for a large number of years, I have tried, blimey I have tried, indeed if there was a chicken god/judge, its likely they would pursue me for unspeakable acts of cooking cruelty on chickens.

I am reminded of the occasional satisfaction that the simpering, recently divorced one seems to get when she cracks the breast bone on a chicken and the strange look of happiness that sorts of floods her perfect features. I have done it too of course, just not with any satisfaction. I hope.

I have rubbed butter inside, outside and under the skin, I have stuffed, unstuffed. I have long cooked, slow cooked and cried when the chicken just did not come out like the Blessed Iris’s once or twice a year roast (huge) chicken. I have brined the chicken and carefully dried it. There is not much that I haven’t done apart from the below. And it is what I should have done.

Research is my middle name these days. The internet makes it easy to take a vicarious peep into the world of the kitchen and see what other do. In the end, it seems that my major mistake was not having the oven hot enough to do its thing. There must have been a moment when I simply turned the oven down and left if there mentally.


My roast chicken dreaming is… flavoursome, moist, tender and with crispy skin. Not too much to ask. Yet in my case, seldom achieved. I confess to loving a stuffed chicken and I also confess to over stuffing and ending up with a dense bready mass.

I have been researching Turkey. Not the country, the bird. On the basis that I also don’t think I cook it all that well, I was seeking to put some sort of clarity on the whole question… brine/stuff/butter etc. I found a woman who cooked 19 Turkeys in one month, she turned herself into something of an expert. More later on her and her Turkey result.

Brining… great if you have the time, we seldom do and I suspect chicken is seen as a good quick meal, brining needs to be started 8 hours before cooking. The way around this is simple, rub salt into the bird and wrap in cling wrap for 45 minutes. And, this is the part I loved, add the juice of one lemon to the salted bird. The bird was a free range 1.75 kilo fresh chicken.

Turn the oven on, you want 240 Celsius and that is going to take 20 minutes to get hot (less with fan forced).

I used a white oval baking dish, I laid down a bed of potato and unpeeled garlic maybe 12 cloves. After removing the cling wrap from the bird, placed it breast down on the potatoes. I added a bit more salt and the juice of a second lemon, I studded the bird with a generous wallop of butter and a splash of EVO and some black pepper, I placed the spent lemons inside the chicken. I scattered a few sprigs of Rosemary here and there. (Sage would have been my herb de jour, but the season is wrong).

Into the hot oven and leave it for 60 minutes, untouched. Turn the bird over and back to the hot oven for a further 15/20 minutes.



Preheat the oven well… it really needs to be 240 Celsius

Do NOT open the oven door

Don’t panic

Don’t be afraid of salt

Stuffing… If you want stuffing, precook the onion and garlic until they are glassy, don’t over mix the stuffing, try and be light handed with it. Never over stuff the cavity, no more than 50%.

Finally, after I took the chook from the oven after the full 1 hour and 20 minutes, removed the bird and the potatoes to a plate, cover them (loosely) in foil… the reason, if you cover them tightly it will steam and any crisp skin you have managed to create will vanish. Pour the fat from the pan. You can just add a bit of stock and scrape the browned bits into the sauce and that is your gravy. I had gone ahead as the chook was cooking and fried some mushrooms in a bit of butter, added a splodge of cream and a sprinkle of porcini powder, I ferretted around for the roasted garlic and squeezed that into the sauce, I then poured the mushroom and cream into baking dish and scraped all the lemony brown bits into it. Made a delicious sauce.


Certainly one of the best ways of cooking Chicken I have tried in a while.

~ by peterwatson on August 15, 2013.

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