The Perfect Roast Chicken

The Perfect Roast Chicken

Is there anything more comforting, iconic and quintessentially delicious than a whole roast chicken? Think of its soft, juicy meat, wrapped in a bronzed taught skin, surrounded by a puddle of juices and perched on a bed of perfectly seasoned veggies – there, you have your answer. Being able to master the perfect roast chicken is a rite of passage for every meat eater.

The key to perfectly seasoned, succulent chicken is by using a very simple technique which will transform the way you cook meat. Dry brining, or pre-salting simply means rubbing salt and sometimes seasoning or sugar directly onto the meat and allowing it to rest in the fridge for a period of time before cooking. This is the easiest way to achieve tender, seasoned meat where nature does most of the world for you. The salt initially draws out the moisture through osmosis. This moisture, which is the juices of the meat, are then dissolved by the salt, creating a natural brine that puddles on the surface of the meat. This brine is eventually reabsorbed into the meat and starts to break down the tough muscle proteins. Et voilà – meat that has been tenderised and seasoned before even hitting the pan.The amount of salt needed for dry brining may seem daunting or the time needed intimidating but try this technique and you will need no further convincing. Say auf wiedersehen to dry, tasteless chicken from now and forever.

You could probably get through life without knowing how to roast a chicken, but the question is, would you want to?

Nigella Lawson

A classic roast chicken can be your go-to dish in any circumstance or occasion. Both homely and elegant, it never fails to take centre stage on the table and lift spirits. For me it’s a dish that signifies kindness and abundance, and then of course there is the token love gesture of the oyster. Follow this recipe for a fail-safe way to cook the perfect roast chicken.

Best enjoyed in good company and with an allowance for mucky fingers.

The Perfect Roast Chicken

The Perfect Roast Chicken

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Course: Lunch, DinnerCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





Being able to master the perfect roast chicken is a rite of passage for every meat eater.


  • 1 x 1. kg free-range chicken

  • 1 onion

  • 1/2 bulb fennel

  • 2 sticks celery

  • 2 carrots

  • 1 bulb garlic

  • 50 g butter

  • 1 lemon

  • 3 dried bay leaves

  • 1 small bunch rosemary or thyme or mix of both

  • sea salt & pepper

  • 3 tbsp sea salt


  • Sprinkle the salt over the chicken, ensuring it is well covered inside and out. Put a cooling rack over a tray or plate and place the chicken on top. Chill uncovered in the fridge for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight, but no longer than 24 hours.
  • Remove the chicken from the fridge 30-40 minutes before cooking to allow the bird to come to room temperature. Pat the bird down with kitchen paper, drying the chicken helps with browning.
  • Preheat the oven to 240°C.
  • Roughly chop the vegetables into big chunks and slice the garlic clove straight in half, then place everything onto a baking tray.
  • Melt the butter in a microwave or small saucepan.
  • Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, drizzle it all over with the melted butter and season. Make sure that you cover every surface, including inside the cavity.
  • Pop the lemon inside the chicken’s cavity, along with the fresh herbs. Scatter the dried bay leaves around the tray,
  • Place the tray in the oven, then turn down the heat immediately to 200°C. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Baste the chicken halfway through and then another 2 time softer that before taking it out.  To check to see if the chicken is cooked, carefully remove the tray from oven, poke a knife into leg joints, and pierce the meat. If juices run clear, the chicken is done. If you see a rosy pink color, it needs more time. 
  • Let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes, to settle the juices in the meat and lower the temperature so that it is cool enough to handle when carving. Transfer the chicken to a platter, serve with the veggies in the pan (squeeze the garlic cloves out) and pour all of the delicious, buttery pan juices over the meat.
CategoriesBritish Dinner Meat

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