Simple Roast Chicken

There are countless recipes out there for “Roast Chicken”. Roast chicken with potatoes, veggies, spatchcocked, with beer, with lemon, herbs, no herbs, butter, olive oil, slow cooked, and so on. However, regardless of what goes in or around the chicken, most of the recipes will include the following key ingredients: butter (for crispy skin), lemon (to keep the meat moist), garlic and herbs (for flavour).

Though there are days that I like to fuss around my roast chicken and make something interesting, unusual or grander with it, there are also days where I just want to make a simple roast chicken to serve for dinner or Sunday lunch and try to get some leftovers for work lunches. Here is my recipe for a simple roast chicken

Roast Chicken

Serves 4 | Prep 10 minutes | Cook 1 hr 30 minutes + resting
Easy | Gluten-free

Roast Chicken 2

You’ll need:

  • 1.5 kg chicken;
  • 1 large onion, cut into thick disks;
  • 50g butter, softened;
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, bashed;
  • 1 lemon, halved;
  • A small bunch thyme;
  • 2-3 bay leaves;
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil;
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning.

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. Place the onion disks in the middle of roasting tray, large enough to fit the chicken. Place the chicken on a board and massage with the softened butter, covering the whole chicken. Season all over with salt and pepper and inside the cavity. Squeeze a little of the lemon all over the chicken, then put the halves in the cavity, along with the garlic and herbs. Place the chicken on top of the onion in the roasting tray and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, just enough to get the flavour from the olive oil.

Roast for around 1hr and 15 minutes. You can check if the chicken is ready by inserting a meat thermometer inside or piercing a knife in the thicker parts. If the juices run clear then the chicken is ready. If they are still pink, roast for another 15 minutes and check again, and continue until ready. If the skin is starting to get too dark, you can cover the chicken with foil.

Once ready, leave to rest for 15 minutes, covered loosely with foil. Meanwhile, you can make a gravy if you wish. Add the herbs and garlic to the roasting tin and scrape any of the cooking bits. Add any juices from the chicken as it is resting to the tin, along with 300ml chicken stock. You can add 1 tbsp flour to thicken the gravy and continue to stir until the gravy has reduced a bit and has become glossy and thick. If you are cooking for gluten free diet, you can use the same process for the gravy with gluten-free flour.

Serve with roast potatoes, gravy, veggies and whatever else your heart desires!


Previously published on Food Notes on this date (Jan 21st):

== 2018 ==
* Buttermilk pancakes with caramelised bananas and Brazil nuts:

Turkey crown with pancetta and sausage & chestnut stuffing

I haven’t had a turkey for Christmas in years! We always eat goose as per a tradition coming from my partner’s family. However, this year we had a big (ish) Christmas party with our climbing group and decided to host it at home. It was 11 of us with various dietary requirements and turkey seemed to fit the bill – large enough to feed us all and everyone can eat it.

I found two really good recipes in an old BBC Good Food magazine (issue 2011) and ended up joining them up together. I made the turkey as per one recipe and the stuffing as per another recipe and it worked perfectly!

The only thing is, unfortunately, in the chaos of serving up dinner for 11 people, I somehow forgot to take a photo fo the full turkey… In such situations, usually, I will cook a dish again, but it seems like too big a meal to do that with!

Our turkey was also very big at more than 5kgs just for a crown! So it comfortably fed us that night and for a week after… So in the recipe below, I’ve changed up the ingredients a bit to a slightly larger turkey.

Turkey crown with pancetta, roast garlic and sausage & chestnut stuffing

Serves 10 + leftovers | Prep 35 mins + resting | Cook 2-3hrs
A little effort

Picture of the carved turkey, photo by Sarah Ahmad

You’ll need:

For the turkey

  • 4kg turkey crown;
  • olive oil;
  • about 10 thin slices pancetta or streaky bacon;
  • small rosemary sprigs;
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges;
  • 3 whole garlic bulbs, halved horizontally;
  • 1 lemon, zested (reserve the zest for the stuffing) then cut into 6 wedges.

For the chestnut stuffing

  • 25g pecans;
  • 2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 25g butter;
  • 3 shallots;
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped;
  • 140g cooked chestnuts, finely chopped;
  • 450g good quality pork sausage meat;
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley;
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme leaves;
  • 2 tsp finely chopped sage;
  • lemon zest (from the lemon you prepped for the turkey);
  • 1 egg, beaten.

For the gravy

  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour;
  • 1.2 litres turkey or chicken stock.

For the turkey. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.  Weigh it to calculate the cooking time, allowing 20 mins per kg, plus 90 mins (or 70 mins when roasting a crown weighing less than 4kg). Sit the turkey on a board, very lightly rub all over with olive oil and season with pepper. Lay the pancetta or streaky bacon over the top of the turkey, slightly overlapping to cover it. Tuck the slices under the bird to secure at the bottom. Insert small rosemary sprigs haphazardly between the slices. Season with pepper. Tie the crown across in 2-3 places with butcher’s string, to hold the shape together. Put the onion wedges in the middle of a large roasting tin and sit the crown on top. Cover the turkey with a loose tent of foil, then roast following your calculated time.

Make the stuffing. Line the base of a baking tray or sheet (big enough to take 16 stuffing balls) with baking parchment. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan, tip in the shallots and garlic, and fry for a few mins until softened. Stir in the chestnuts and chopped pecans, then tip into a large bowl and cool. Add the sausage meat to the bowl with the nut mixture. Add the remaining stuffing ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Shape the stuffing mixture into 16 balls. Break the remaining pecans into big pieces and press a piece into top of each ball. Arrange balls on the prepared tray, cover with buttered baking parchment and chill until ready to cook. Can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.

Thirty mins before the end of the cooking time, remove the turkey and increase oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Remove the foil, place the garlic halves and lemon wedges around the turkey, then baste them and the turkey with the cooking juices. Return the tin to the oven and continue to roast for the final 30 mins. To test if cooked, pierce the fattest part of the crown with a skewer – the juices should run clear, not pink. If they are pink, continue to roast, checking at 10 min intervals.

Carved turkey, photo by Sarah Ahmad

Remove the turkey, garlic and lemon from the oven, transfer to a warm serving platter and rest, covered loosely with foil, for 30 mins before carving. Meanwhile, cook the stuffing balls. Increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Bake stuffing balls in the oven for 25-30 mins, removing the paper for the last 5 mins if they need browning.

Make the gravy. Pour off any excess fat from the roasting tin but leave the juices and onions. Sprinkle in the flour, set tin over medium heat and cook, stirring for a couple of mins to cook the flour, scraping up any sticky bits from the bottom of the tin. Gradually pour in the stock, along with any resting juices from the turkey, and continue to stir until slightly thickened. Simmer gently for about 10-15 mins or until reduced to your liking. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Strain gravy into a pan, warm through, pour into a jug and serve with the turkey. Serve the turkey surrounded with stuffing balls, roasted garlic and lemon, and the gravy.

One full Christmas dinner plate, photo by Sarah Ahmad


Original recipes from BBC Good Food magazine, issue December 2011. Turkey Crown with pancetta, available online here. Pecan and chestnut stuffing from another recipe, available online here.

Pot-roasted Pheasants

It’s game season! Which means you can get a hold of some really good British game, which is definitely worth doing. Pheasants are really easy to cook and make for a fantastic roast. They are more flavorsome than chicken and offer a nice rich flavour. I tried pot roasting them for the first time, thanks to a great recipe from BBC Good Food, and it worked really well. The birds weren’t dry at all and the veggies were beautifully flavoured from the wine and cooking juices. If you are thinking of making a roast soon, make it this one! It is a really easy recipe and a beautiful introduction to cooking pheasants.

Pot-roasted Pheasants

Serves 4 | Prep 25 minutes | Cook 2 hrs
A little effort


You’ll need:

  • 2 pheasants, tied (ask your butcher to do this);
  • 1 tbsp plain flour, well seasoned;
  • 50ml vegetable oil;
  • 2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, thinly sliced;
  • 8 shallots, peeled and left whole;
  • 2 carrots, peeled and quartered lengthways;
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and quartered lengthways;
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed;
  • 1 thyme sprig;
  • 1 oregano sprig;
  • 2 bay leaves;
  • 100ml marsala or sweet sherry;
  • 50ml red wine;
  • 200ml chicken stock;
  • 1 tsp caster sugar;
  • bread sauce, gravy and roast potatoes , to serve.

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Using tweezers, tweeze out any remaining feathers on the birds. Though they come cleaned well, but a little work is usually required. It usually takes less than 10 minutes to prep the birds. Dust the pheasants with the flour, then heat the oil in a large flameproof dish with a matching lid (I used a casserole). Brown the pheasants all over, then remove from the dish.

In the same dish, fry the bacon, vegetables, garlic and herbs with 1 tbsp of the dusting flour for 5 mins, until the vegetables start to colour. Put the pheasants and any resting juices back in the dish, pour on the Marsala, wine and stock, add the sugar, then cover and cook for 1 hr 30 mins – 1 hr 50 mins or until the leg meat easily comes away from the bone.

Make a gravy while the birds are resting. Put the vegetables in a serving dish and heat up the cooking juices. Cook over a high heat for 5 or so minutes until the liquid has reduced and thickened. You can add a bit of flower to help it thicken if needed.

Serve with bread sauce, gravy and roast potatoes on the side.

Original recipe from BBC Good Food magazine, issue October 2011, available online here.

Slow-roast pork belly with celeriac & pear mash

Continuing with my trend of posting weekend food, here is another fantastic roast recipe. This time, the start of the show is a slow cooked pork belly, which is first roasted on high heat, then low, then high again which helps to dry out the crackling on the top while the rest of the meat is melt-in-the-mouth soft. In this BBCGoodfFod recipe, the pork belly is served with contrasting celeriac & pear mash which adds a sweetness which compliments the roast. The only thing which will improve this recipe is a nice serving of gravy to go with it!

I have two really good butchers that I use near me. This time, I got the pork belly from Rodger Butchers who are really good, knowledgeable butchers based on Byres Rd in the West End. Their meet is really good quality and in this case the pork belly joint was quite lean which made for a fantastic taste!


Slow-roast pork belly with celeriac & pear mash

Serves 4, with leftovers | Prep 20 minutes | Cook 2hrs and 30 minutes | Easy | Gluten-free
You’ll need
  • 1 1/2 kg pork belly, skin scored;
  • 3 rosemary springs, leaves picked;
  • 2 tsp coarse sea salt crystals;
  • 10 black peppercorns;
  • 750g celeriac, cubed;
  • 1 large potato, cubed;
  • 2 ripe pears, peeled and cubed;
  • 3 tbsp double cream;
  • large knob of butter;
  • purple sprouting broccoli, to serve.

For the pork. Take the pork out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking. When ready to cook, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Pat the pork skin dry. Put the rosemary leaves, salt and pepper in a mini chopper and grind together (or do this with a mortar and pestle). Rub the rosemary salt all over the pork, making sure it gets into the cuts in the skin. Sit the pork in a large roasting tin, ideally on a rack, and roast for 30 mins.

Reduce heat to 170C/150 fan/gas 3 and roast for 1½ hrs more. Turn oven back up to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and roast for 20-30 mins to crisp. Leave to rest on a board for 10 mins before carving.

For the mash and broccoli. In the last 10 minutes of the pork cooking, put the celeriac and potato in a large pan of water, bring to the boil and cook for 10 mins until just tender. Add the pears and cook for 2 mins more. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli in salted boiling water for 5 minutes, until just tender.  Drain well, then mash until smooth. Beat in a splash of cream and some butter, and serve with the pork and broccoli.


Tip: Prep everything for the mash while the pork is cooking. You can leave the cubed celeriac & potato in cold water until you are ready to cook it.

Recipe from BBCGoodFood, issue March 2012, available here.



Poussins stuffed with Boursin cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and olives

Poussins are young chickens, usually less than 28 days old. They are quite small, usually weighing around 400-500g and each bird is perfect for one serving. You’ll usually find them in Spring in large supermarkets or poulterers. They have a subtle and light flavour, and are really nice cooked spathcocked on the barbeque or roasted in the oven. I found this recipe in an old Olive magazine and have adapted it slightly. The original recipe uses cream cheese and herbs, which I have substituted for one of my favourite cheeses to cook with – the garlicky and flavourful Boursin. Unfortunately, the original recipe is not available online. This is a lovely dinner for two, that can be easily multiplied if you need. Great for the weekend!

Poussins stuffed with Boursin cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and olives

Serves 2 | Prep 15 minutes | Cook 40 minutes + resting  | Gluten-free | A little effort
You’ll need:
  • 2 whole poussins, oven-ready (I used Gressingham’s corn-fed poussins);
  • 25g butter, softened;
  • 150g Boursin cheese;
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped;
  • 20g black pitted olives, chopped;
  • 2 tbsp olive oil.

First, take the poussins out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking so that they come up to room temperature.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Mix all the ingredients apart from the poussins and butter, and season to taste.

To prepare the poussins, put the birds down so that the cavity is facing you. Carefully use your fingers to prise away the breast skin from the flesh, creating a pocket for the stuffing. Carefully push half the filling under the skin of each bird until it is spread evenly under the skin. Use some toothpicks to close the skin back up. Rub the birds with the softened butter and season all over (this will help the skin to crisp).

Roast for 35 minutes, basting them with an juices half way through. Check they are cooked by piercing at the thickest part of the thigh, if the juices run clear the birds are cooked. If not, give them another 5-10 minutes. Remove and wrap each bird in kitchen foil and rest, breast-side down for a further 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with roast potatoes and salad.

Original recipe from Olive magazine, issue March 2014.