Roast Chicken and other things

Thursday 14 November 2013

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Sunday Lunch has to be one of the nicest traditions here in the UK.  It's actually a dinner . . . not a lunch (usually served early to mid afternoon).  Not sure why it is called lunch, but I have noted that most celebratory dinners here in the UK are referred to as lunch, prime example being Christmas Lunch.  Who am I to quibble when we are talking about something as delicious a meal as Sunday Lunch generally is!

Over the next four weeks The Sunday Times is publishing a pull out Ultimate Cookbook as part of the Incredible Edibles Food Series, dedicated to food and dining.   This weeks focus is Sunday Lunch, and you can get your copy of The Sunday Times Ultimate Cookbook:  Sunday Lunch this weekend, on Sunday the 17th November, featuring no less than twelve of the finest  recipes for this occasion  brought to you by twelve celebrity chef's.

You will be able to enjoy and recreate such tasty delights as Jamie Oliver's Sunday Roast Steak and Marcus Waring's  Mushroom Cobbler (for the veggies), only two of the delicious recipes on offer.

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 Who doesn't love a delicious Roast Chicken dinner??  It has to be one of the most popular Sunday lunches ever.  Simple, easy and delicious . . .  plus . . . you have the added bonus of leftovers for some tasty sandwiches on Monday and, if you are really thrifty, the bonus of a delicious soup created from the bones and any scraps left on them for Tuesday.


I have to say that  Simon Hopkinson's simple and delicious recipe for Roast Chicken is one of the best I have tasted.  The chicken  turned out moist and full of flavour, with a delicious crisp skin and beautiful pan juices.   I always roast my chicken on a bed of peeled potatoes and carrots.   They act as somewhat of a trivet and I do admit . . . having absorbed some of those delicious chicken juices they taste fabulous when done as well.  (Plus all of the mess is in one pan to clean up) 

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Lemon, garlic, herbs . . . simple ingredients . . .  WOW flavours.  Moist and tender chicken, crisp skin . . . delicious pan juices.  What's not to love about a dish such as this???  The Toddster was in seventh heaven . . . and so was I.

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*Roast Chicken*
Serves 2 to 3 
The Ultimate roast chicken by Simon Hopkinson, as seen in The Sunday Times Ultimate Cookbook, sunday lunch.  The former Bibendum chef turned author can roast and write with equal aplomb. His 1994 book, Roast Chicken and other stories, remains a masterpiece of it's kind.

110g of good butter, at room temperature
(about 1/2 cup)
1.8 kg free range chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)
salt and pepper
1 lemon
several sprigs of thyme or tarragon, or a mixture of the two
1 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed  

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Preheat the oven to 230*C/ 475*F/ gas mark 7.  Smear the butter with your hands all over the bird.  Put the chicken in a roasting tin that will accommodate it with room to spare.  Season liberally with salt and pepper and squeeze over the juices of the lemon.   Put the herbs and garlic inside the cavity, along with the squeezed out lemon halves.  This will add a fragrant lemony flavour to the finished dish.  Roast the chicken in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  Baste, then turn the oven temperature down to 190*C/ 375*F/ gas mark 5.  Roast for a further 30 to 45 minutes, with further occasional basting.

The bird should be golden brown all over with a crisp skin, with buttery, lemony juices of a nut brown colour in the bottom of the tin.  Turn off the oven, leaving the door ajar, and leave the chicken to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.   This enables the flesh to relax gently, retainin gthe juices in the meat and ensuring trouble free carving and a moist bird.  Carve the bird to suit yourself.

Note:  I personally like to roast my chickens on a trivet of potatoes and carrots that I have tossed 
lightly with some olive oil and seasoning.  The end result is a meal in one dish, with nicely roasted carrots and potatoes with a gorgeous flavour having been basted with all those chicken and lemon juices.

Get your copy of The Sunday Times Ultimate Cookbook:  Sunday Lunch this weekend, the first in a four-part series.  Featuring a selection of the finest recipes of the celebrity chef era.  The Ultimate Cookbook is part of  The Incredible Edibles Food Series dedicated to food and dining.  Upcomng editions in the series are Quick Eats on Sunday November 24th, Brunch & Baking on Sunday December 1st and Dinner Party on Sunday December 8.

Visit to subscribe and to find out more details about exclusive Times + chef eents hosted at some of the country's best restaurants.


  1. I made your gnocchi with corned beef ladt night, Marie. Yummo! What a neat idea.

  2. So glad you enjoyed it Anna! We love it better with gnocchi than potatoes!

  3. That chicken looks so moist and tender. I might have to roast one this weekend.

    Happy weekend, am off tomorrow...and I don't computer from home. Getting ready for my 2nd 2014 horse show of the season.

  4. Ramona, clearly you are a woman of many talents! I love it! Hope you have a great show!

  5. Hi there,

    Just wanted to ask - are you sure those cooking times are correct? Usually one would roast a chicken for 20 minutes per 500g plus 20 minutes at 200C. So for a 1.8Kg bird that would be around 96 minutes, not the 45-60 your recipe above suggests...

    I notice in the second photo the chicken has been spatchcocked for roasting, which would probably justify those cooking times...

    Just a little confused, as I'm sure you wouldn't want anyone eating undercooked chicken!

  6. When I was growing up, chicken was a real luxury meal. We only ever had it at Christmas and I looked forward to that roast chicken for the whole year!

    It's ages since we had a nice roast chook (an Aussie slang word for chicken, hee, he...) so I must try this soon.

  7. Hi Neil, the recipe is written just as it will appear in Sunday's Times Recipe pull out booklet. This is actually Simon Hopkinson's recipe. The intitial cook time of fifteen minutes at a high temperature ensures a nice browning of the skin and also gives it a quick blast of cooking at a much higher heat. You will see that after that first cooking time, the oven temperature is reduced quite substantially by 100* farenheit for a further 45 minutes. One should always check that the juices run clear before pronouncing your chicken done! It may take longer than the suggested times. It can vary even according to how your oven works. These times are basically just a guideline, but thanks so much for your input!

  8. Simple recipe and it looks delicious, I'll make dinner at Christmas, Thank you.

    São Paulo - Brazil

  9. Who doesn't love roast chicken?? But I'd have to disagree re your lunch/dinner comments - lunch happens at 1pm to 2pm - dinner is after 7pm. Sunday Roast lunch - 1.30pm for definite!

    Surrey, UK

  10. Thanks for your observations Alison. To me, having grown up in Canada, Dinner refers to any meal in which you have meat and potatoes, etc. We often had "Dinner" at home at lunch time because that is what my father wanted, and then we would have a "light supper" in the early evening. There is a huge difference between lunch and supper to me. Lunch is soup, or sandwiches salads, etc. . . . a much lighter meal in comparison to dinner. And THAT was what I was referring to when I was making the comments re lunch/dinner! A rose by any other name! xx


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