There’s nothing better than a roast chicken for Sunday lunch. It’s often overlooked here in the UK due to abundance and cheapness, but I promise you this recipe for a perfectly roasted chicken with lemon, garlic, and herbs will blow you away.
Sunday roasts are a weekly British staple. We don’t go without a roast on a Sunday in our house, and if we ever go through a whole Sunday without one we feel very put-out. The tradition of having a large meal on a Sunday is very European. Once British families had come home from church they’d look forward to a large meal with family and friends. English Anglicans and Catholics often fasted before church service on a Sunday, so they’d be ravenous by the time the service was over. As the saying goes, a Sunday well-spent leads to a week of content!
Find the best chicken you can afford. A higher-welfare, free-range, organic, fresh chicken is absolutely wonderful. See if you can find your local butchers and ask them for advice on which to buy. Chicken is often situated at the worse-end of battery-farming and mass-produced meat, so it’s important to know where your bird comes from before you buy.
This roast chicken recipe is also known as “engagement chicken” – which is actually a US recipe. The tradition goes if you serve this to your beau, they’ll ask you to marry them… probably because they know you can roast a chicken to perfection like this. Please do let me know if it works for you in the comments!
To serve 4 hungry people, you’ll need:
- 1 whole, higher-welfare large chicken, taken out the fridge an hour before cooking
- 1 whole bulb of garlic, sliced in half
- 2 large sprigs of rosemary or thyme
- 1 large lemon, cut into quarters
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 tbsp butter, left out to soften
- Salt and pepper
- Take the chicken out of the fridge an hour before you need to cook it (if you’ve frozen it, make sure it’s defrosted thoroughly) and untie the legs. This ensures you get even roasting.
- Preheat an oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit). Season the chicken inside the cavity, and on both sides. This really is the secret to a delicious chicken! Put the garlic bulb in first, then the lemon wedges and then slot the rosemary in between.
- Rub a tablespoon of soft butter all over the chicken, making sure to concentrate the butter on the top of the breasts at the highest point so the butter bastes the chicken in the oven. Then season with salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken on top of the sliced onions and pace in the center of the oven for 15 minutes to brown, and then turn down to 150 degrees Celsius (300 degrees Fahrenheit) for a further hour and 15 minutes.
- Once the chicken is cooked all the way through, the skin is beautiful and golden, and the juices run clear on the legs (if you have a meat thermometer, make sure the chicken is at least 72 degrees Celsius in the leg joints), leave the chicken to rest for half an hour on a carving dish or plate under a tin foil and a damp tea towel to keep warm.
- Make the gravy by putting the roasting tray on the stove and reducing the juices until they go brown. Then add a glass of white wine, burn off the alcohol and then add good-quality chicken stock, and a dash of dried sage. In a small ramekin, spoon a tablespoon of cornflower into some cold water from the tap, take the gravy off the heat and stir in well, then put it back on the heat to thicken. Pour the gravy into a jug to keep warm in the top oven or on the stove.
- Carve the chicken by taking the wings off first, then run your knife along the breastbone and slice the breast away from the carcass. Then take the legs off. Don’t forget to carve the meat off the back of the chicken too. Save the crispy skin to one side.
This is perfect on warmed plates with roast potatoes, steamed carrots and greens, and a jug of gravy.
Don’t forget to save this recipe for later on your Pinterest board: