To roast a chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Feeds


Appears in

Old Food

Old Food

By Jill Dupleix

Published 1998

  • About

This is the finest, and simplest way to roast a whole bird. It’s borrowed from the French, but don’t let that stop you serving it with Mum’s gravy (Broths and Sauces) or bread sauce (Broths and Sauces) and plenty of fresh green peas.


  • 1.5 or 1.6 kg chicken (3 to 4 lb)
  • 1 lemon
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


Heat oven to 200°C (400°F).

Wash chicken in cold water and pat dry. Reach into the cavity and pull off any fat that remains inside the entrance. Squeeze lemon juice over and inside the chicken, rubbing it into the skin. Rub chicken inside and out with sea salt and pepper, and pop the squeezed lemon into the cavity. Melt the chicken fat in a small frypan while you truss the chicken with string, tying the legs and wings firmly in place. Place chicken on a wire rack inside the roasting pan. Fill pan with hot water until it almost reaches the level of the rack. Pour most of the melted chicken fat over the chicken, and roast for 30 minutes. Turn chicken around in oven, baste with remaining chicken fat and roast for a further 30 minutes at 180°C (350°F) or until the skin is golden and the leg moves easily when jiggled. If you’re not sure, pierce the area between leg and breast with the tip of a knife. If the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked. Leave chicken in a warm place for 10 minutes before carving.