Oven Roasted Chicken Recipe – roast a bird to perfection

In this the first in our series of ‘Signature Dishes’ that every Butler needs to know we approach that most perfect of Sunday Roasts: the roast chicken.

There are lots of easy things you can do to turn your chicken into a meal to remember, oh yes…

Roast chicken - yum!First let’s cover some things you simply must do:

Buy the best chicken you can – free range, organic, raised by monks whatever. But a happy bird raised in a stress free environment will bring good taste karma to the table. Check your labels, if it doesn’t say ‘free range’ or ‘organic’ trust me it isn’t and was raised in an environment so awful I won’t address it here.

When you unpack the bird check that there are no little plastic bags of ‘giblets’ inside – great if there are but remove them and put them into a bowl and into the fridge – we’ll use them later.

Wash the fowl inside and out with cold water and drain – pat dry with kitchen towels and leave, lightly covered with newspaper or similar, so it can really dry off. Wet chickens ‘steam’ rather than roast and we want nice crispy skin. Don’t put it back in the fridge – our chicken will enter the oven at room temperature.

Pre-heat your oven to about 230C (450F) so the oven is super hot when the chicken goes in. Turn that oven on about 30 minutes before you want to start cooking (15 minutes for fan assisted ovens).

Salt and pepper the interior of the bird ( the cavity) and stuff in whatever herbs you can lay your hands on, a peeled onion, an unpeeled garlic clove or two and half a lemon. None of this is etched in stone by the way, use what’s to hand – dried herbs will do: Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Tarragon, Bay leaf.

Remember I said herbs not spices!

Once the bird is stuffed with the above tie the legs together with some string ( this is optional and personally I only do this with larger birds).

If you’ve got it rub the whole chicken with goose or duck fat then sprinkle over sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. In the absence of that duck/goose  fat a nice olive oil will do. Leave out the salt if you wish.

Now here’s the cool tip that differentiates a succulent roast chicken ( especially the breasts) from a rather dry and boring end product.



Chicken: How To Make Upside Down Roast Chicken


Place the bird on a trivet or wire rack in a roasting tray. This is to stop the bird sitting and cooking in its own juices – we’re roasting a chicken here people, not boiling one!

After a quick 15-20 minute zap in the hot oven remove the chicken. Turn the oven down to 170/180C (335-355F). Now turn the chicken upside down on the trivet, pepper and salt it again, and stick it back into the oven.

This removes the need for the constant ‘basting’ I used to do in my efforts to keep those chicken breasts moist. I used to stuff butter under the breast skin, cover the chicken with strips of bacon etc. Well, no more! The breasts are continually basted naturally when you cook a chicken this way.

As an added bonus the underside of the bird and the wings get nicely crisped up too. Yum!

Now I’m not a great one on cooking times but I’d say work on another 60 minutes at this new temperature – if you’re a clock watcher feel free to add your cooking times per pound or kilo below in the comments section. So set your timer or alarm for an hour and get on with other things.

For the last 15 minutes of cooking time ‘up’ the heat again to the 230C (450F) of earlier and turn the chicken over again so it’s the ‘traditional’ way up.

While doing that insert a knife between the legs and the breast to check that the juices run clear ( i.e. no pinkiness or blood in the juice). Another good indication that the bird is cooked is that the legs appear ready to fall off or be easily pulled away from the body of the bird.

When lifting the chicken to turn it over be sure to drain any liquid inside so that they fall into the roasting pan. Add a good slug of white wine at this stage to those juices too and chuck in those giblets we mentioned earlier if you have them (we’ll talk about making gravy later).

Once your bird is done remove it to a carving board – loosely cover with newspaper or baking parchment or even a wire net if you have one and leave it to rest – 15 minutes for a small bird to 30 minutes for a very big one. This is very important. It will NOT go cold!

While that’s happening you can pull all your vegetables together and finish off the gravy and add the final crispiness to your roast potatoes put into there warmed serving dishes and prepare to serve, after carving the chicken.

Gravy, stuffing, bread sauce and our favourite vegetables including the butler’s roast potatoes recipe will be covered in part #2 of the Butler’s Way To Roast A Chicken as will carving.



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  1. What a great video it is, I love roasted chicken very much1

  2. London says:

    Just bought a bird, will try this method tonight!

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