Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Basil Butter

My menu plans have been truly rubbish and boring over the past few weeks, but the antibiotics seem to have put paid to the illness, so I decided to try a few dishes this week that I haven't attempted before, or that I don't make very often. Because I'm a control freak not usually home in time for the children's dinner during the week, I tend to prepare their meals in advance the night before and leave them in the fridge or slow cooker for heating up the next day. This means a lot of bolognaise/pie/pasta bake types of meal, or the sausages and fish fingers options. Boring!

On Sunday night I prepared a chicken for roasting, using tips from Jamie Oliver. This went down well yesterday with gravy, mash, sweetcorn and peas. We had leftover chicken with pasta after the children had gone to bed and tonight I'm happily picking at the carcass. I used the halogen cooker to roast it, which results in a deliciously moist chicken, and a collection of lovely aromatic juice in the bottom of the cooker, which just needs to have the excess oil skimmed, and can be poured directly over the chicken with no further fuss.


  • 1 whole chicken, preferably free-range or organic
  • 50g butter, slightly softened
  • 2 teaspoons of pancetta cubes or sliced streaky bacon
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh basil, leaves removed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, squashed but skins intact
  • Salt and pepper to season
Serves 4-6


  • Trim the neck and cut off the parson's nose, remove any excess fat around the cavity and wash the chicken thoroughly inside and out. Pat dry with kitchen towels, and rub a small teaspoon of salt around the inside of the chicken. Place onto a chopping board, breast side up, and put to one side
  • Place the crushed garlic clove, pancetta cubes, chopped basil and butter into a bowl. Using a fine grater, grate the lemon zest into the mixture and add 3-4 twists of ground black pepper. Using your fingers, mix all the ingredients together until well combined
  • Starting at the neck, place your fingertips between the skin and the breast meat of the chicken, and gently separate the skin from the breast meat, to form a pocket
  • Place the butter mixture in the pocket between the skin and the meat, then using your hands, apply pressure on the breast, to squidge the mixture out over the whole breast. Slash the chicken thighs once or twice, and rub any remaining butter mixture over the thighs
  • Using a fork, stab the lemon a couple of times and place it in the chicken cavity, along with the red onion and the cloves of garlic
  • Place in a roasting dish, breast side up, and cover the wing-tips and drumstick ends with foil, to prevent them burning
  • Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for approximately 60 - 75 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. 
  • (If using a halogen cooker, place the chicken directly onto a rack, ensuring there is room for the heat to circulate around the chicken. It would be best to place the chicken breast-side down, then turn half-way through, to ensure crispy skin all over)
  • When the chicken is cooked, remove from the heat, remove the foil, cover and rest for 20 minutes whilst you prepare the potatoes and vegetables
  • Serve with roast, boiled or mashed potatoes, lots of different veg and lots of gravy made from the chicken juices

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Basil Butter


  1. fab Sara, I love my halogen oven too, Kit x

    1. I have to ask Jan to take the photos for me when she is cooking the food! She is very accommodating!