Monday, 9 September 2013

How to make the perfect roast chicken


It's official.  London's favourite dish is a roast dinner, followed closely by pizza and spaghetti bolognese.

Tesco have released some research as part of their Love Every Mouthful campaign which shows that nearly half of all parents admit to sticking to what they know in the kitchen, rather than trying something more adventurous.

I can understand this, with bills going up and up and families tightening their belts, when you have kids to feed it's not always easy to take a risk on something they haven't tried before.

But, the Love Every Mouthful campaign also encourages shoppers to celebrate food in all it's glory, by highlighting fresh, seasonal British ingredients.  So, if you're going to make a roast dinner, lets make it the best you possibly can.

We love a Sunday roast in our house (or any other day for that matter), and invariably will chose chicken as we try to limit the amount of red meat we consume.  We all have our own particular ways of making a roast, but here are my top tips for the perfect Sunday lunch.


  • Buy the highest quality chicken you can afford.  We only ever eat free range, but look for organic, free range or RSPCA Freedom Food labels.  There's more information on labeling and welfare standards here.  We used to keep chickens at home so I know what intelligent creatures they are.  I can't bear to think of them being intensively farmed in filthy, over-crowded sheds.  You'll notice the difference in taste too, so I'd rather buy a smaller bird than a lower quality one.




  • My favourite way to roast chicken is with lemon and thyme.  Slice some cuts in the lemon and pop it inside the chicken.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the skin, sprinkle with sea salt and thyme.





  • Cover with foil, and cook according to weight - typically 20 minutes per 450g plus an extra 20 minutes. Remove the foil for the final 30 minutes for a brown, crispy skin.  Check it's cooked thoroughly by pushing a sharp knife or skewer into the thickest part of the thigh - the juice should run clear.
  • Pour the juices into a jug as it cooks.  The fat will rise to the top and you can use this to roast your potatoes, and the meat juices will be used to make gravy.



  • Make sure you leave your chicken to rest after it's cooked otherwise it will be a nightmare to carve.
  • For the perfect roast potatoes, par boil first for 5-10 minutes.  A tip in was given ages ago is to put a splash of vinegar in the water. I don't know why, but it gives potatoes that are crispy on the outside and fluffy inside - I always do it now.  Once you've drained the spuds, give them a little shake in the pan to roughen up the edges.
  • Heat up your fat in the roasting tray (preferably the same tray you cooked your meat on so you get all the flavours).  Once it's really hot, add the potatoes and a sprinkle of sea salt. Give them a gentle shake to cover them all in fat. Cook on a high heat (around 220 degrees) for about 40 minutes.


  • To make the gravy I use the meat juices and one Oxo cube.  Crumble the stock cube into a saucepan with the juices.  Heat and stir, adding a splash of wine if you happen to have any open.  Once it starts to boil and thicken, reduce the heat and dilute to the right thickness using hot water from your vegetable pans.  You shouldn't need any powder, granules or thickener.



And that's it - all that remains is to fight over who's having a leg and who's getting the breast.

How do you make your roast chicken dinner?  Do you have any secret tips you want to share, or rituals about how you cook it?

Disclosure: I was sent the ingredients for a roast chicken dinner by Tesco. All words and photos are my own.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

32 comments:

  1. YUM! I do mine with lemon as well, and loads of black pepper. Delish!

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    1. I haven't tried black pepper on the chicken, will give it a go. x

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  2. Wow that does look delish! I love garlic cloves pushed into the breast of my chicken. Will have to add a lemon next time as that sounds good! x

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    1. Oh I do that with lamb, why haven't I thought of adding it to a roast chicken before?! x

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  3. Ohhh yum and you just got the thumbs up from Lucas who was looking over my shoulder when I read this....... I always roast mine with honey and mustard and the juices combined with the h&m make a delicious gravy. Popping over from Wicked World of Lucas

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    1. Thank you for popping over Cathie - hi Lucas! x

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  4. Love roast chicken, when the skin is crispy. I also add the lemons up its bum. :)

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  5. oooooh I LOVE roast chicken

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  6. we had chicken tonight, have to say I dont use foil, just cook as is with a sprinkle of oil with ground black pepper and coarse see salt. cook the potatoes in with the chicken so they get the full flavour.

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    1. I agree the potatoes taste great when cooked with the meat, but then it's all ready at the same time and the meat doesn't get chance to rest and I can't cut it. Such a dilemma!

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  7. Yummo! I so can;t wait till I get a big oven next year - the microwave combi one is ok but not big enough really for a proper roast - imagine next summer when I roast my first chicken for 6 years - I may implode!

    Looks lovely how you've done it *slurrrrp*

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    1. Wow 6 years?? That is going to be one epic roast!

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  8. Crispy chicken skin is the best. FACT!

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  9. I LOVE roast chicken and I love the taste lemon and thyme add to the flavour. Your photography is gorgeous and really makes me want to cook a chicken soon :)

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  10. Looks so tasty. I don't tend to make a roast because I'm never organised enough to start to cook it so early before eating.

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    1. I generally only have time at the weekends!

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  11. It's fun you say we don't like changing our habits, then as I read I thought,oh no I don't do that (haha) and will carry on the way I do it. I don't use foil (that was the point) - what is that for? Does it speed it up?

    The most important thing about cooking a roast is not to forget the yorkshire puds - which reminds me I need more flour.

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    1. Honest answer? Why do I use foil? Because it doesn't spit so much and mess up my oven. I've just paid to have it cleaned you know! x

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  12. pretty much exactly how I do my chicken but I stuff and onion in there too... although I did the 10 hour chicken this weekend which is always spectacular!... great post c

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  13. oh and I always do foil for the first half and then foil off and temp up!

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  14. Right, is it possible to have a roast dinner for breakfast! Delicious!

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  15. You've made me so hungry! Your chicken looks absolutely perfect.

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  16. We adore a good roast in this house and I love to add tomatoes in the last 40 minutes along with garlic which are so incredibly sweet when roasted. Thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays!

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  17. Ooooh I am drooling,one of my faves, we have roast chicken more than on a Sunday as well. I use lemon and thyme in the week, garlic and rosemary, tarragon and lemon is yum too. For a traditional Sunday roast ours is placed on a veg trivet of leftover (past its best) celery and onion skin on quartered and a couple of unpeeled carrots. Veg is dicarded This flavours the chicken and makes the gravy taste even better.
    Potatoes are bashed about after parboiling to give a crusty finish and occasionally I dust them in semolina for real crunch!

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