“Citrus Chicken Rested in Herbs” from “Nothing Fancy”

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times (and also, I’m quite sure I’m not the original author of this aphorism): Roast chicken is the Little Black Dress of cooking.

If you have it on a Sunday, it’s the linchpin of your Sunday Roast. If you have it on a weeknight, the meal suddenly becomes more of an event. Also, once you’ve made it a few times, you realise how easy it is, how many variations you can try, and how it’s always delicious. Win. Win. Win.

This version by Alison Roman features citrus and herbs– the clue is in the name, after all. The exciting part comes at the start when you have to cut a chicken in half, which I had never done before. I just imagined myself to be a magician doing it and it made the task even more fun. (It’s actually not that hard; you just need a good knife.)

After marinating the chicken, you roast it, but since it’s already cut in half, the roasting is quicker than with a traditional roast chicken. The marinade is delicious, and, not surprisingly, very citrusy.

My only question was what to do with all the slices of citrus– they’re hard to see in the photo above, but trust me, they’re there– underneath the chicken once it was roasted. Alison wasn’t clear in the recipe. Were we meant to eat them? Were they garnish? Who could say. So we left them.

The chicken was great and the dinner was delicious. The Little Black Dress of the culinary world triumphs again.

“Citrus Chicken Rested in Herbs” from “Nothing Fancy”

“Stuffed Greek Chicken with Cayenne, Oregano and Orzo” from “From the Oven to the Table”

This is one of those magical recipes that makes you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

It is undeniable that Roast Chicken is DA BOMB. (I could try to find a better way to describe it, but why should I when that perfectly captures how I feel about it.) I will never tire of it and frankly I will try every variation possible until the cows come home.

This version features double carbs. You read that right: DOUBLE CARBS. The bread stuffing with tomatoes and feta, and the orzo pasta that you add in the final 20 minutes. Diana Henry’s absolutely genius idea– the one I was sorry I didn’t think of first– was to add the orzo pasta to the roasting pan along with some chicken stock. The pasta then soaks up all the delicious chicken roasting juices. This idea, one that requires minimal intervention from the cook, is just brilliant.

You may have guessed by now that we loved it, and you are correct. In the introduction, Diana Henry recommends enjoying this dish for a spring Sunday lunch as you “contemplate the approaching summer.” We did the reverse and enjoyed it for an autumn lunch, where we reminisced about the now-gone summer. It was perfect.

“Stuffed Greek Chicken with Cayenne, Oregano and Orzo” from “From the Oven to the Table”

“Garlic-Butter Roast Chicken” from “Repertoire”

Having a roast chicken on a weeknight always seems like such an indulgence. It seems like the sort of dish that should be reserved for a lazy Sunday afternoon, when you also have time to make all the trimmings, along with some sort of dessert.

But why not have it on a weeknight? I mean, we live in very uncertain times here in the U.K. (understatement of the century), so why not reward ourselves on a random day for having survived another day of dire headlines? So roast chicken it was.

In the introduction, Jessica admits, “There are an astonishing number of recipes for roast chicken in the world.” It’s true, there are. She goes on to say that we should just use this one, though, which I think would be a mistake. With so many delicious ways to eat a a bird, why restrict ourselves to just one type?

However, this was a good one to have on the aforementioned weeknight, because it is spatchcocked, which meant it cooked quicker and more evenly. Pouring the melted garlic butter over the top of it was, obviously, fantastic. Has melted butter ever been a bad idea? The cardiologists of the world would disagree with me, and they might be on to something, but still…

So, yes, this was delicious. It cheered us all up on a random weeknight when we had our fill our political shenanigans, on both sides of the Atlantic. Was it vastly better than the hundreds of other types of roast chicken I’ve made? Well, no. But who cares. It was still delicious.

“Garlic-Butter Roast Chicken” from “Repertoire”

“Beer Can Chicken” from “Half Baked Harvest”

I will start this post by admitting this is a Photo Fail. I really should have taken a picture of the beer can sitting under the chicken once it was roasted. The problem was I was so distracted by the novelty of using a beer can for roasting a chicken that I just completely forgot. In my defense, the photo in the cookbook is just of a roasted chicken, so maybe it’s just not that photogenic.

Beer Can Chicken is not a novelty; I’ve seen plenty of recipes for it before now. I guess the stars were aligned correctly on Sunday so that I finally gave it a try. Reader, let me tell you that it did not disappoint.

The beer of choice for this recipe was Brewdog’s Punk IPA, mainly because we still had a case left over from when Andrew visited from university (this is a miracle in itself). Unlike traditional roast chicken recipes, what the beer did was it kept the chicken incredibly moist and juicy– and that’s an understatement. It might have been the juiciest roast chicken I’ve ever made, which is saying something.

For this version of Beer Can Chicken you make a seasoning mixture, some of which you mix with butter to rub on the breasts and the rest you mix with olive oil to run around the outside of the chicken. With smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic powder and chilli powder, the seasoning mix had quite a kick but we liked it. If you wanted to get creative and all that heat is a bit much, I’ll bet you could change the mix for whatever spices you like.

But keep the beer can in the chicken. Beer is key. That is not that first, nor will it be the last, time I say that.

“Beer Can Chicken” from “Half Baked Harvest”

“Spatchcocked Chicken” from “How to Eat a Peach”

The full title to this should be, “Spatchcocked Chicken with Chilli, Garlic, Parsley and Almond Pangrattato.” In the introduction, Diana Henry admits that there’s nothing more to this than roast chicken with yummy stuff scattered over the top when it’s done roasting.

That’s absolutely true, but it’s also absolutely delicious. And frankly, what’s wrong with a roast chicken with chilli, garlic, parsley and almond pangrattato scattered over the top? Nothing at all.

Also, here’s a top tip from our friendly butcher at Dring’s: while it is relatively easy to spatchcock a chicken yourself, it’s better to get someone else to do it because it might ruin your knives if you do it. Good to know. (Also, I’m pretty lazy and when any task can be done by my butcher– deboning, deskinning, de-anything– I’ll have them do it.)

This one was a winner. We’ve been having an unusually scorching summer in London, so this was also a good one to make in the heat because I could bang the chicken in the oven, and then leave the hot kitchen to go read out back. But this would work any time of year, frankly.

“Spatchcocked Chicken” from “How to Eat a Peach”

“Paprika-Rubbed Sheet-Pan Chicken with Lemon” from “Dining In”

Yum. Yum. Yum.

The rub you make for this chicken has fennel seed, hot paprika, salt, smoked paprika, black pepper, garlic and olive oil. Basically, all good things. Alison says in the introduction that she smears this rub onto other meat too– pork chops, pork shoulders, chicken wings. I can see it working well on all of those things, and may try to do it myself.

The other different approach to this recipe is that you cook the chicken low and slow– a low temperature oven for a long time. This makes the chicken extra-moist and extra-juicy. It’s definitely an excellent way to do it if you’ve got the time.

You’ll see the roasted red peppers above, which I roasted for the last hour alongside the chicken, which I then tossed in the leftover juices and spices in the bottom of the sheet pan. Just like Alison told me to do. It was an excellent recommendation.

If you’re wondering if we enjoyed the chicken, I will answer the question with a fact: there was no chicken leftover. Not one shred. That tells you everything you need to know.

“Paprika-Rubbed Sheet-Pan Chicken with Lemon” from “Dining In”

“Simplest Roast Chicken” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”


Kirstin: So this totally smoked out the house as you have to cook the chicken at an insane heat for a relatively short period of time.

Tom: The thigh meat isn’t really coming off the bone very easily.

Kirstin: That will be why. I’m usually totally up for new roast chicken recipes, but just not this one. I had to open the windows all over the house too as there was smoke everywhere.

Tom: I prefer your usual recipe.

Kirstin: Me too.

“Simplest Roast Chicken” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

“Chicken with Rice, Sweet Potato and Pepper Stuffing, Coriander and Coconut Sauce” from “A Bird in the Hand”

Nicholas (11): Chicken again?

Maureen: I know. I’m starting to feel the same way.

Andrew (15): Chicken is always good, but we’re having a lot of it.

Maureen: This is what happens when you do a chicken-focussed cookbook. It reminds me of the movie “Take this Waltz” where Seth Rogan plays a cookbook author who’s doing a chicken cookbook. He has a party for his family and they all complain that they’re having chicken again. Spoiler alert: by the end of the movie, his wife has left him, but it’s not because he only makes chicken.

Tim: This is nice, though.

Maureen: Everybody seems to be devouring it, that’s for sure.

Nicholas: Yes, I like it.

Andrew: Me too.

Maureen: Although we’re having chicken AGAIN, I like that this is different from the usual roast chicken that we have. I don’t ever really stuff the chickens, but this is nice, with the rice stuffing.

Tim: Is this gravy?

Maureen: No, it’s not. It’s what you’re getting instead of gravy, and she calls it coriander and coconut sauce. You make it with coconut cream. Yum. I like it because it’s a bit different. Should I make this again?

Tim: Sure. Why not.

Nicholas: Make it again, but not any time soon. I’m getting a bit sick of chicken.

Maureen: I know what you mean.

“Chicken with Rice, Sweet Potato and Pepper Stuffing, Coriander and Coconut Sauce” from “A Bird in the Hand”

“Chicken and Ham Pie” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”

Peter: Still no photo.

Anna: I’ve explained that.

Peter: It looks like a pie again. In fact, it looks like the fish pie from last week.

Anna: That will be the mashed potato on top. Your mum made this with the leftover roast chicken, as Rachel suggests. I like the fact she added in the leftover carrots from the meal too.

Peter: You know I like a good pie. This pie is no exception.

Anna: I have had some of the leftovers and it’s really quite yummy. Must be the double cream!

Peter: Did Louis have any for lunch today?

Anna: He did, and he loved it! Like father, like son. Pie.

“Chicken and Ham Pie” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”

“Roast Chicken with White Wine, Leeks and Carrots” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”

CBAMRoastChickenMaureen: You’ve got to love roast chicken.

Andrew (14): And I do.

Maureen: What do you think?

Nicholas (10): There’s not much that’s different you can do with a roast chicken, though.

Maureen: You are absolutely right about that, Nicholas. Every recipe is more or less the same, with minor variations.

Nicholas: I still like it though.

Andrew: So do I.

Maureen: If you’re wondering, and I’m quite certain that you’re not but I have the conch shell so I will proceed, the difference with this roast chicken is I cooked it for longer at a lower temperature. Also, I didn’t use much butter– far less than I usually do– but I think it’s good.

Andrew: Yes, I like it.

Maureen: I don’t think I like this version substantially more than how I usually make it, though, so I’ll probably stick with how I usually do it.

Nicholas: It is nice to have a roast on a weeknight, though.

Maureen: I agree.

Cook’s Notes: As noted above, the two major differences in this recipe compared to others I’ve made is you roast it at a lower temperature (180C/350F) for at least 90 minutes and you don’t use much olive oil or butter to baste it. It worked fine, I suppose, but I prefer my usual method of 400C for one hour with a combination of olive oil and butter. 

The one big revelation, though, was that it’s actually quite easy to make a roast chicken on a weeknight– particularly this method when you put the vegetables in the bottom of the roasting pan. I will try to do this more often if I can engage in some forward planning, which can be difficult, but not impossible.

“Roast Chicken with White Wine, Leeks and Carrots” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”