Whole Roasted Chicken with Tarragon and Lemon

For my friend Mike’s actual birthday, I made this chicken with various salads accompanied by three bottles of champagne. The lovely Katie (films) and Chris (chemistry; *notably* appeared on Eggheads) were also present. Mike was fairly jet-lagged from long-haul flights and more generally, we wanted a healthy-ish roast (alcohol not included in spec..) so this meal had no carbs. We didn’t miss them, I don’t think.


1 good chicken 

½ bunch, tarragon, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove

1 large knob of unsalted butter

In the cavity:

½ lemon

2-3 whole garlic cloves

some of the chopped tarragon

small knob of butter


1 cup white wine, or sparkling wine (sparkling was used here, as a bottle was open)

squeeze lemon juice

splash of water

all cooking juices from the chicken

the rest of the chopped tarragon

How I made it:

Pre-heat oven to 220c. Mash up the knob of butter with the garlic clove, the chopped tarragon and salt and pepper. Push under the skin of the breast and ensure that it is well distributed. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, and place in ½ lemon, a few garlic cloves and a bit more tarragon. Rub a bit more butter on the outside of the bird and season with salt and pepper. Place in a metal roasting tray.

Roast for 20 minutes on high heat. Turn down to 180 for remaining time (1hr+ depending on size of bird). Turn the bird twice: once after first 20 minutes onto breast and then back over after another 20 minutes until the end. Baste ¾ times with cooking juices at intervals. Cover the breast with tinfoil for the last ½ hour of cooking.

For the gravy, pour a cup of wine into the roasting tin about 15 minutes before removing the chicken from the oven. This cooks off the alcohol and emulsifies with the cooking juices, and does most of the gravy-work for you.

When the chicken is cooked (check by cutting to the joint on a leg, it should not be pink and the juices should run clear), remove from the roasting tin onto a carving board and cover with foil. Scrape the roasting tray to get all of the tasty bits from the bottom, and place on a low heat on the hob with ½ cup of water a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook for a few minutes. Pour any juices that have run out of the bird into the roasting tray. Taste for seasoning and salt and a bit more lemon juice if necessary. Stir in chopped tarragon and pour into a warmed jug, or spoon over meat after carving. 

Eaten with:

Vegetables and salad, of which I shall write shortly. 3 bottles of champagne.


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