‘Never fail’ Roast Chicken

ChickenOkay, 2 posts I’ve mentioned my Roast Chicken, so maybe I should write a little about what’s so great about it.

Chicken is the cheap meat in a nugget, filler in a creamy pasta dish, drumsticks in a BBQ ‘value’ pack. And don’t get me started on Popcorn chicken…

…but chicken is so much more than that, and it’s so undervalued.

Chicken is a very social meat, and so easy to share. You have people who don’t like red meat at all, so chicken is great for them. Then you have people who find Lamb too greasy, Pork too fatty or fibrous, Beef only edible the way they cook it (blue, rare, medium, sunny side-up – whatever). But chicken, everyone likes chicken one way – cooked. No-one asks for chicken rare, or with the fat cut off, no-one wants it ‘well-done’. Chicken. Cooked. Done.

And a whole Roast Chicken can be one of the most beautiful dishes, when given a little care, and being relaxed about it. It’s a real carnivore’s meat, all that pulling at flesh with fingers, and gnawing meat off the bone, popping the legs to suck the marrow if you’re so inclined …gorgeous. It’s also a great option for entertaining as a big chicken can easily feed 6 people (with leftovers for stocks and soups) – with enough choice of breast, thigh, leg and  ‘dark meat’ to cater for all tastes.

Except vegetarians, but they can sit over there. No, further. Further. There.

So, ‘never fails’ Roast Chicken (for which I am indebted to Nigel Slater).


  • One decent sized, free-range chicken;
  • A bulb of garlic;
  • Fresh Thyme;
  • Olive oil;
  • Coarse Salt & Black Pepper.

For the gravy:

  • Vermouth or white wine;
  • A little cornflour.


Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.

Get a roasting tin just big enough to hold the chicken. Slice the entire Garlic bulb in half, going through the cloves. Put each bulb half into the tin. These will be your chicken ‘supports’.

Now, rub olive-oil all over the chicken, getting a thin, even coating. Then grind salt and pepper liberally over the bird.

Pop a few sprigs of thyme in the cavity of the chicken, and place upside down (breast down) into the roasting tin, keeping it from tilting over with your garlic ‘crutches’.

Place in the oven for 45 minutes. Leave it, don’t look at it – it will all be fine.

After 45 minutes, turn the chicken over so it is the ‘right’ way up, and drizzle a little more oil over the breast. Season if all the salt and pepper has slipped off.

Return to the oven for another 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken and place on a chopping board to rest (it’ll be tired after all that cooking!).

Put the roasting tin on the hob and start heating the juices gently, crushing the roasted garlic with the back of a fork, so it turns to mush. Pour in a good 250ml of Vermouth/white wine, and let it bubble gently.  Add a little cornflour to thicken slightly, and then pass through a sieve/strainer, squishing all the garlic as much as you can.

Serve with…

This is a Roast Chicken that can be served as part of a standard Sunday roast with potatoes and parsnips.

It also works wonderfully as a sharing supper, with some home-made rolls, and grilled Courgettes in Lemon and Basil (recipe to follow!)

One response to this post.

  1. […] love cooking dishes like Lamb Tagine, Chilli, Sausages and Parsnips, Roast Chicken, a big leg of Lamb. Dishes that can be prepped in advance, and sit happily in the oven so that I […]


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