10 Pros Share Their Roast Chicken Tips
10 Pros Share Their Roast Chicken Tips

10 Pros Share Their Roast Chicken Tips

A roast chicken is always a crowd-pleaser. But how do the pros make it better than the rest? From seasoning and basting tricks to what to look out for at the supermarket or butcher, we asked some of the UK’s top chefs and home cooks for their tips, as well as a couple of serving suggestions.
By Heather Steele

Rupert Willday

Charlie Bigham’s

“Prepare the chicken the day before by seasoning it inside and out with a little salt. Place on a plate and cover with a tea towel in the fridge overnight. On cooking day, remove the chicken from the fridge at least an hour before it goes in the oven, to allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place some sliced carrots in the bottom of a roasting tin. Stuff the chicken with half a lemon and a bay leaf, then evenly smother the skin with 60g of butter. Season well with black pepper and sprinkle over two tablespoons of chopped marjoram or oregano. Roast the chicken in the centre of the oven and baste with the juices every 15-20 minutes. If there aren’t enough juices to baste, add a splash of water to sit at the bottom of the tin. Roast the chicken for 60-75 minutes until golden – when you pierce a knife into the flesh between the leg and the breast, the juices should run clear. Once cooked, leave to rest in a warm place for 15-20 minutes, ensuring you catch all the juices to add to your gravy. Remove the lemon and bay leaf, and carve to serve.” 

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Alexandra Dudley

SheerLuxe Food Columnist

“I am always happy whenever I eat at a friend’s house and I’m told they are ‘just roasting a chicken and throwing together a salad’. Few combinations are more perfect in my eyes. Spatchcocking a chicken might seem like an overwhelming task, but it is actually fairly simple. I usually ask my butcher to do it for me to save time. When stuffing the chicken, be sure to get the butter as far under the skin as you can. This will ensure it is beautifully tender and will give you a glorious layer of lemony herbs between crispy skin and succulent meat. Cooking a chicken with herbs is no novelty, nor is stuffing the skin with butter. To be honest, the latter really should be compulsory when cooking a chicken as the result is delicious. I like to use tarragon, dill, parsley and mint – there is a fair amount of picking leaves and chopping herbs, but the result is well worth it.”

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Adam Byatt


“A juicy chicken, roast potatoes, bread sauce and watercress – now that’s a cracking roast. Although chicken prices can be high, my advice is to buy the best you can afford (English Label is a personal favourite). Always poach your chicken before roasting. This results in a more succulent and tastier bird, and although it sounds more complex, it actually shortens the overall process. Tie the chicken tightly with string, tucking in the legs to make them the same width as the widest area of the breast. (If you are unsure how to do this, ask your butcher.) Pour the stock and water into a deep flameproof casserole or large saucepan and place over a medium heat. Add the bay leaf and peppercorns, then the chicken. Season the stock lightly with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil, then immediately lift the chicken out of the liquid and allow it to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Place the cooled chicken in a roasting tray, smear with the butter and season well. Surround the bird with onion quarters and bacon-wrapped chipolatas, then roast for 35 minutes. Once cooked, remove the chicken and chipolatas from the roasting tray and leave to rest for 30 minutes before serving.”

Visit TrinityRestaurant.co.uk


Ryan Matheson

Sea Containers

“Place the chicken in an aromatic brine for 24 hours before cooking. Next, pan-roast carrots, celery and onion with added rosemary, garlic and thyme for flavour. Remove the chicken from the brine, pat dry and season well with salt, pepper and oil. Once the vegetables are roasted, fill the chicken cavity with them, and put the bird in an oven that’s been preheated to 180°C. Place a dripping trip filled with some of the leftover brine liquid in the oven and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cooked through.” 
Visit SeaContainersLondon.com

Mimi Morley


“Prepping the chicken with seasoning helps create the most delicious flavours. The best way to do this is to make a compound butter. Simply soften the butter, while adding herbs like rosemary and thyme, some garlic salt and black pepper, then slather it over the skin of the breast and legs of the chicken. Alternatively, you can cut a small hole in the skin at the bottom of the breast, tease the butter in and spread it out underneath the skin with your finger – be careful not to break the skin too much. Most people know about the ‘lemon in the chicken’ technique, but you can also do it with lime for something a bit different. Pierce holes in the lime before putting it inside the chicken and mix sesame oil, garlic, lemongrass and ginger to make an Asian-inspired roast chicken.”

Visit HelloFresh.co.uk

Justine Murphy


“Roast chicken is so good with garlic butter. To make that, you’ll need 100g of softened butter, 3 cloves of garlic – peeled and grated – and 1 sprig of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped. In a bowl, mix three-quarters of the butter with the grated garlic, chopped parsley, a good pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. With your fingers, work slowly and carefully to loosen the chicken skin and push the flavoured butter underneath. Take care not to tear the skin. Reach all the way across each of the breasts to get the garlic butter distributed evenly. Rub all the remaining butter over the skin, then sprinkle with salt quite liberally to help it crisp up well in the oven.” 

Visit MyMuyBuenoPrivateChefs.com 



Jimmy Garcia

Jimmy’s Pop-Up

“For a super crispy, beautiful skin and moist chicken, place a thin layer of salted butter between the skin and the flesh of the chicken in as many areas as possible without piercing the skin. This will allow the butter to run into the meat as well as crisp up the chicken and help to cook it to absolute perfection.”

Visit JimmysPopUp.com

Paul Leonard

Forest Side

“Once you have carved your bird and finished dinner, simply put your remains and carcass in a stock pan and cover with cold water. Slowly bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes before passing off through a fine sieve. You now have a chicken stock that you can freeze ready to be the base of soups and sauces in the future.”

Visit TheForestSide.com

Kerth Gumbs

Fenchurch at Sky Garden

“When buying a chicken, I look for beautifully coloured skin, free of dark blemishes or marks. There needs to be a general firmness to the meat. To roast, I usually like to brine it whole in 100g of salt and two litres of water along with aromatics such as garlic, thyme and rosemary. After removing from the brine, I rub it with a mix of blended garlic, oil, thyme salt and pepper as well as a pinch of curry powder, making sure to get inside the cavity. I will normally put a 1.5-2kg bird onto a wire rack above a tray of water at 175°C for 45 minutes then let it rest for ten minutes before carving. The water creates moisture under the chicken, and it catches the natural juices that fall from the bird, which for me is the best way to make gravy. The best side to accompany the meat would be a potato dish in almost any format. It could be roasted, mashed or sautéed. And as I am a rice lover, sometimes I will use some of the juices to cook a little side pot of rice with the simple addition of rosemary or lemongrass.”
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Henry Russell


“I learnt to make this stuffing on my first day working as a chef and still find myself coming back to it – it being such a reliable but pleasing combination of flavours. Heat an oven to 175°C. Place six garlic cloves in a small saucepan and cover with water. Place on a high heat, bring to the boil then cook for ten minutes, until very soft. Drain, place in a bowl and mash with a fork. Add two chopped preserved lemons, parsley, spices, two tablespoons of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, then mix well to combine. Finely slice two onions and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the onions and, using your fingers, separate the skin from the flesh at the top of the crown. To make space for the stuffing, use a spoon to push the skin away from the breast then down the side to where the legs are. Now use the spoon to force the stuffing into the space that you’ve created, a little at a time. Once it is in, you can use your fingers to spread it out all over the top of the chicken. If the skin at the top of the crown looks very loose, use a cocktail stick to pin it in place. Add 150ml of water to the tray, wrap tightly with foil and place in the oven for 1 hour and ten minutes, then remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes. Carefully remove the chicken and place on a plate, leaving the chicken to rest, loosely covered with foil for 20 minutes, until ready to serve.”
Visit Belazu.com

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