What better smell can there be than that of a chicken roasting in the oven? Long before the bird is ready to eat, mouths are watering, stomachs are rumbling and patience is wearing thin in anticipation of a tasty and satisfying meal. While a plain roast chicken is delicious in its own right, there are certain simple additions we can make to the chicken while it is roasting that will take the flavors to new levels of awesomeness and make the served meal even more enjoyable.

Roast Chicken Dinner
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Orange, lemon and thyme flavored roast chicken is served with deep fried potatoes and Brussels sprouts

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 6 pound free range, organic chicken
  • 2 small clementines or tangerines
  • 1 un-waxed lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil (no need to use extra virgin in this instance - the cheaper stuff works just as well)
  • 4 medium sized baking potatoes
  • 20 or as desired Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter (do not use a butter substitute, it will be likely to split)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly to serve


Cut the pope's nose/parson's nose from the chicken, as well as the bony leg ends if they have not already been removed, and discard. The cooking time of the chicken is now calculated by weighing the bird and allowing twenty minutes per pound plus an extra twenty minutes. If you don't have kitchen scales, perhaps you can ask for it to be weighed at the time of purchase. This simple formula really does provide an excellent guide to the time the chicken is required to be in the oven so should be used wherever possible. Lightly oil a deep roasting tray and sit the chicken on it breasts side up. Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6.

Stuffing Chicken with Oranges and Lemon
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Hot clementines and lemon are stuffed in to chicken cavity

Put the whole clementines or tangerines and the whole lemon in to a pot of cold water. Put the pot of water on to a high heat, just until the water starts to boil. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fruits to a chopping board. One at a time, hold the fruits steady by piercing them with a fork and cut each in to four to six pieces, being careful of squirting, very hot juices. Put the pieces in to a bowl, season with salt, pepper and the dried thyme and turn around gently with a wooden spoon to evenly disperse the seasonings before spooning everything in to the cavity of the chicken. The reason for doing this is to ensure the fruit is steaming immediately it gets inside the chicken and straight away begins imparting its wonderful flavors.

Oven Ready Chicken
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chicken is stuffed, oiled, seasoned and ready for the oven

Drizzle the chicken liberally with olive oil and rub it all over with your hands. Season with some salt and put the tray in to the oven for the required cooking time.

As soon as the chicken is in the oven, peel the potatoes and chop them to approximately one inch chunks. Add them to a big pot of salted cold water and bring the water to a simmer for about twenty minutes. Drain and allow to steam off and dry out for ten minutes or so before returning to the pot, covering and leaving to cool completely.

Testing Chicken Doneness
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Checking the chicken juices run clear and that it is properly cooked

Take the chicken from the oven at the end of the cooking period and you should find that the skin is a deep golden color and beautifully crisp. In order to check that it is in fact ready, pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. The juices which flow from the resultant hole when the area is lightly pressed with the side of the skewer should not contain any trace of red or pink. Should any traces of blood be visible, cook the chicken for fifteen more minutes and test again in the same way.

The cooked chicken must be left for fifteen to twenty minutes to rest. When you've set it temporarily aside, put a large pot of cold, salted water on to reach a boil for cooking the sprouts. Wash the sprouts, trim off any damaged stalk end and remove any loose or damaged leaves. Add them to the water when it comes to a boil for eight minutes.

Deep Frying Potatoes
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Potatoes are deep fried in hot oil

When the sprouts are on to cook, start your deep fat fryer preheating to a fairly high setting. Alternatively, you can as I do simply use a deep frying pan of oil. Either way, you may have to fry your potatoes in batches to avoid overloading the basket or pan. 

Holding the lid tightly in place, shake the pan of cooled potatoes to rough up the edges a bit and help them become all the more crisp when cooked. Deep fry for about four or five minutes before draining on kitchen paper.

Butter and Nutmeg added to Sprouts
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Butter and nutmeg are added to drained sprouts

Drain the sprouts and let them steam off for a couple of minutes before returning them to the pot with the butter and nutmeg. Swirl the pot carefully around for half a minute or so to ensure all the sprouts become evenly coated in the spiced butter.

Chopping Roast Chicken
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

First leg is removed from chicken

Sit the chicken on a chopping board and take a light hold of one leg. Pull it gently away from the body and cut through the meat all the way around the joint before popping it free. Do the same with the second leg and both wings, sitting the removed pieces on a suitable plate or in a dish prior to plating. Cut the breast fillets off by cutting either side of the breast bone, allowing the bones to guide your cleaver or knife. Cut each breast fillet across the grain in to three or four pieces.

Roast Chicken Dinner is Served
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Roast chicken dinner is served

Plate up your meals as desired. If you wish, each leg could be halved at the joint between drumstick and thigh to make fair portion division easier. The cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly is best taken to the table to allow each diner the choice of helping themselves.