I love to treat my family to a nice Roast Dinner at the weekend. It’s a time that we can all gather around the table and enjoy a delicious meal together. Some weeks it is a roasted joint of beef or pork, and we do all love to eat that, but my family is always excited when I put Roast Chicken on the menu!
There is something very familiar and welcoming that you feel in your heart when you are sitting down to enjoy a Roast Chicken Dinner. As the main cook in this home, I have to admit that I get that same feeling when I am preparing it, knowing that my family is really going to appreciate the fruits of my labours.
One of my favourite ways to prepare Roast Chicken is this recipe I am sharing with you today for Roasted Garlic & Herb Chicken with Melting Potatoes. This is almost an all-in-one recipe where your chicken and your main accompaniment cook together in the same dish, finishing up at the same time. A juicy roast chicken, flavoured with herbs and garlic, roasts on top of the potatoes until both are meltingly tender and delicious! You just can’t beat it. Let’s get started!
Gathering All the Ingredients
This is a recipe that uses very simple ingredients. I find that if you buy the very best ingredients you can afford, even if they are very ordinary, even the simplest recipe turns out to be a winner/winner chicken dinner! And in this case, it really is a chicken dinner!
Finding the Right Chicken
Lets talk chicken here for a minute. I always like to buy the best roasting chicken that I can afford. I choose to buy free-range and organic, and corn-fed if I can find it. I know that these kinds of chickens do cost a bit more, but I feel that they are well worth the difference.
The flavour is so much better in a “happy” chicken! By that I mean a chicken that has been allowed to roam and stretch its legs/wings and enjoy a bit of sunshine every now and then.
When you think about it, you will be getting the main meal from it, as well as perhaps a few sandwiches, and always a soup from the empty carcass, so whilst it may cost you a bit more upfront, in the long run it is actually an economy.
How to Prepare a Chicken for Roasting
It goes without saying that when you are spending a bit of money on a nice piece of poultry you will want to treat it with respect. Here are my tips for making the perfect roast chicken!
- Before you roast the chicken, you will want to pat it dry with some paper kitchen towelling. This results in a crisper, tastier skin.
- I like to tie the chicken’s legs together after stuffing it with anything I might be stuffing it with, prior to roasting. This helps the chicken to keep its shape during its roasting.
- If you are roasting a chicken on its own, it helps to place the chicken onto a greased rack I the baking dish. This helps to prevent the chicken from sticking to the dish.
- Pouring a small amount of liquid in the baking dish helps to create steam which helps to keep your roasting chicken moist. You don’t need much, only about ¾ of a cup. This can be stock or wine, or both.
- Once your chicken has roasted and has been taken from the oven, remove it from the roasting dish to a platter, tent with foil and allow it to “rest” for about 15 minutes. This helps the juices to settle back into the meat and will reward you with a much more succulent finish. Cutting into it too soon will release all those lovely juices that you really want to retain.
The Rest of the Ingredients
As well as a good quality roasting chicken, this recipe requires a quantity of potatoes, fresh rosemary, some fresh lemon thyme, plenty of garlic, softened butter, a small amount of a good white wine and some chicken stock, along with some salt and black pepper.
You don’t need to buy the most expensive wine for this, but you don’t want to use a cheap wine either. Something in the mid-range works well.
I am fortunate enough to have my own fresh herbs growing in my garden. You will be leaving the sprigs of rosemary whole, but you will need to strip the leaves from the thyme.
Preparing the Potatoes
You will want to use a type of potato that will hold its shape well during the longer cooking time. I use a salad-type of new potato if I can, with a thin skin. I don’t peel them, but if they are older potatoes, you may want to.
Wash them well and then cut them in half, placing them into the roasting dish you are going to roast the chicken in. These potatoes are actually going to be acting like a “rack” or “trivet” holding the chicken above the liquid in the dish so that it doesn’t stew.
Don’t use potatoes that have a green tinge to them. Green potatoes have been exposed too much to the light and have been known to be toxic. Discard any that are green.
Moving on to the Garlic
Make sure the garlic that you use is very fresh. You don’t want to use garlic that has started to sprout or shrivel. Plump crisp cloves are best, without green bits. If your garlic has any green bits, scoop them out and discard. The green bits can be quite bitter.
It is very easy to peel garlic cloves. Place the cloves onto your cutting board and then press them firmly but gently with the side of a knife. This will loosen the skins and they should peel off very easily. You’ll need a good and wide chef’s knife (like these) to make sure you don’t cut yourself!
Most of the garlic will be put into the base of the roasting dish along with the potatoes and one sprig of the rosemary. You then pour some chicken stock and a small quantity of white wine into the dish. This is what will help to soften the potatoes and keep the chicken moist.
Stuffing the Chicken
Please use a separate cutting board/surface for dealing with your raw chicken and your vegetables to avoid cross contamination. If your chicken has any large amounts of fat inside the cavity, you will want to pull these out and discard.
I like to stuff my chicken with aromatics, which means that the chicken will be flavoured from the inside out as well as from the outside in.
The remainder of the garlic that you have peeled will be inserted into the cavity along with the other sprig of rosemary. Sometimes I will use thyme and lemon together with the garlic, but today I am just using the rosemary.
You will need to form a pocket in between the skin and the flesh of the breast of the chicken. This is very easily done by gently working your fingers into that area a bit at a time, taking care not to tear the skin.
You will want to keep it as intact as possible. This is what will hold in the butter that you are then going to rub in between the skin and the chicken flesh.
You will be using two thirds of the softened butter for this. Room temperature is best. Try to put an equal amount on both sides of the chicken breast, pushing it in with your fingers as far as you can and then massaging it into the breast to spread it all over as best as you can. The other third of the soft butter will be used to rub all over the outside skin of the chicken. I just use regular lightly salted butter for these purposes.
Now you will want to tie the legs together to help to maintain the shape of the chicken. Over here they come already trussed so I just use the elastics that come with the chicken to do this. Otherwise I would use a length of kitchen or butcher’s twine.
Getting Ready to Roast the Chicken
Place your trussed and buttered chicken on top of the potatoes in the roasting dish. Sprinkle it liberally with some fine sea salt and coarse black pepper and the thyme leaves. It might look like a lot but trust me when I tell you that this is just right!
The chicken is now ready to pop into the oven and roast. For a 3 ½ pound chicken this will take roughly an hour and a half at 350°F. You don’t want to over cook it and dry it out, but you also don’t want to under-cook it.
The chicken is done when the juices run clear when poked with a skewer and when a drumstick twists easily in your hand. If the juices are not clear or tinged with pink, return it to the oven for a little while longer. The potatoes should also be meltingly tender.
And It’s Done!
Doesn’t that look delicious! The skin is crisp and well flavoured, and I can promise you that the meat is tender and succulent, and those potatoes, meltingly delicious. Remove the chicken to a platter and tent with some foil.
Scoop the potatoes out into a serving dish and then strain the juices to make a delicious gravy to serve with the meal. This can be very easily done by removing 2 tbsp of the fat from the juices and heating it up in a saucepan. Once it begins to sizzle a bit whisk in 2 tbsp of flour and let that cook for a few minutes, before whisking in the remainder of the pan juices.
If you don’t have enough pan juices, you can use some additional stock. Whisk and cook until the mixture begins to boil and thicken. You can also whisk in a tablespoon of red currant jelly. Delicious! Serve this tasty gravy at the table.
I have a small collection of individual cream jugs that are actually very tiny and only hold about ¼ cup of liquid each. I heat these up and fill each with a portion of gravy, affording everyone with their own individual serving of gravy at the table. They love it!
Ready to Plate
I also always cook a few other vegetables to serve on the side. Just cook whichever vegetables the family enjoys. A bit of stuffing also goes down a real treat with this roast dinner!
Dinner is now ready to enjoy. Everyone will be smacking their lips when they see you pop this tasty meal down in front of them! After having been tempted by those tasty smells wafting through the air while it was cooking, they will be more than ready to tuck in and enjoy!
Roasted Garlic & Herb Chicken with Melting Potatoes Short Recipe
Classically roasted chicken, which roasts atop a bed of potatoes which absorb its juices and become meltingly tender.
- 3 ½ pound roasting chicken (I prefer free range organic, corn fed if I can get it)
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
- 4 tbsp butter, softened
- 2 ¼ pounds waxy potatoes (not good for mashing, but for salads)
- ¼ cup good white wine
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Have ready a roasting pan large enough to hold your chicken and your potatoes. Set aside.
- Pat the chicken dry inside and out with paper towelling. Place 1 sprig of rosemary and six cloves of garlic into the cavity of the chicken.
- Run your fingers between the skin on the breast and the meat, taking care not to tear it
- Push 3 tbsp of the softened butter into the pocket created, dividing it equally between each side.
- Press down and push it around to cover the breast meat. Secure the legs with some butcher’s twine. Rub the remaining butter all over the surface of the chicken
- Cut the potatoes into quarters or halves if small. Place them into the base of the roasting pan in a single layer, along with the remaining cloves of garlic and the remaining sprig of rosemary.
- Pour the wine and chicken stock over the potatoes and then sit the chicken on top, breast side up. Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the chicken and season well with salt and black pepper.
- Roast in the pre-heated oven for 1 ½ hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.
- Let sit for about 15 minutes lightly tented prior to serving.
- Carve the roasted chicken and serve along with the potatoes and any desired vegetables on the side. You can spoon any remaining pan juices (if any) over top.
Complete Steps in Pictures
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Marie Rayner is a Canadian, who moved over to the UK and began a new life in the year 2000. At the age of 45 she decided she needed a career change and went back to College to take a Chef’s course, after which she worked as a Personel Chef for a number of years.