Messed About Chicken

Someone close to me once said that they like Roast Chicken, but they don’t like it messed about. That’s fine, but unless you get a really good chicken they can taste a bit bland and dry. Personally, I like my chicken messed about with, so here’s a recipe for that.


  • One medium-sized chicken
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • The zest and juice of a lemon
  • A handful of rosemary (preferably fresh)
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • A teaspoon of cornflour
  • A glass of dry white wine

You will need:

  • small bowl
  • garlic press
  • lemon juicer
  • fine grater or sharp knife
  • cooks brush
  • As much time as you can spare

Lemon, rosemary and garlic are one of the classic combinations, with which it’s hard to go wrong. The quality of the chicken makes a difference, but you can compensate for a lesser bird with time in the marinade. Start this dish in the morning and it will reward you in the evening.

Marinading Chicken

Marinading Chicken

Wash the lemon in hot water and rub it in kitchen paper to remove the wax (unless it’s unwaxed, but that’s rarer). Using a grater, or even a sharp knife, put finely chopped or grated zest into a bowl. Juice the lemon and add it to the bowl. Add twice as much olive oil as lemon juice. Wash and strip the leaves from the rosemary and then chop finely, and add them to the bowl. Crush two cloves of garlic in the press (or chop very finely) and add them to the mixture. Whip together with a fork.

Using a cooks brush (a pastry brush will do, but one of those silicone ones works very well) paint the chicken all over with the mixture and leave on the side to marinade. Throughout the day, as you pass, paint some more marinade on the bird. Just keep adding more marinade and let the flavours penetrate the skin.

After at least an hour, or if possible all day, pour any remaining marinade inside the chicken. Sprinkle with salt and place in a roasting tin in the oven at 180C for about an hour. If you have a rotisserie, this is a perfect way to use it.

At the end of an hour, remove the chicken and raise the temperature to 200C. Remove the chicken to a resting plate, then pour as much of the fat off from the roasting tin into a bowl to cool without loosing any of the browned bits or the juices. Add a glass of white wine to the tin and with a wooden spoon scrape off as much of the brown bits as you can into the liquid. When the tin is mostly clean (this makes washing up easier) pour the scraping and mixture off into a pan and heat slowly. It will spit, so be careful.

Return the chicken to the roasting tin and roast at 200C for ten minutes. This will brown the skin and add to the flavour. Meanwhile wait until the saucepan is near boiling. Mix a teaspoon of cornflour with just enough cold water to make it liquid and add this slowly a bit at a time until the sauce starts to thicken. bear in mind the sauce will thicken further as it cools.

Remove the chicken from the oven after about ten minutes and place on the resting plate under foil for about five minutes while you finish off vegetables. Carrots, steamed broccoli, french beans and mashed or new potato all go well with this. Alternatively you can eat it with a mushroom or saffron risotto, or even pasta.

Carve the chicken into slices onto a warmed plate. Pour any juices from the resting plate into the sauce. Serve slices of chicken with a small jug of sauce to pour over the meat. It elevates a chicken to dish worthy of a feast, and yet it is simple and yet, for a messed about meal, it requires very little attention.


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