The first dish I ever made for my husband when we were dating was a roast chicken and it turned out to be quite a disaster. It was also my first attempt at roasting a whole chicken. All I had in my studio apartment then was a table top oven and the chicken took forever to cook. By the time it did, it was burnt on the outside and borderline raw on the inside. I was trying to give out domestic goddess vibes but failed, although I did redeem myself eventually. We were both starving by the time we could eat, but we definitely had a good laugh!
I have made several other attempts at roasting a chicken, but none as successful as this one. I initially used this recipe with boneless thighs before attempting to roast a whole chicken. My husband absolutely loved the marinade when I made him a caesar chicken wrap with this marinade recipe and he said it was one of his favourites out of the countless meals I have made him.
- Marinate: Marinating the chicken is an important step – rub salt all over the chicken and sprinkle some into the cavity, then leave the chicken to marinate in the fridge overnight. This step is important in ensuring a tender and juicy chicken as the salt breaks down the muscle fibres in the chicken.
- Dry: Pat dry the chicken before seasoning – I am in the ‘don’t wash the chicken’ camp as I believe that washing the chicken will increase the risk of spreading bacteria on the kitchen surfaces. Also, I think it is time consuming and a waste of time, but if you believe in washing the bird, ensure that it is dry before putting on the seasoning. A dry bird is key to ensuring that perfect crispy skin!
- Roasting pan with a rack: I use a deep roasting tray with a rack as this keeps the chicken elevated instead of cooking in its juices. If you don’t have a rack, use chunky cuts of the vegetables to prop the chicken up so that heat can flow through the underside of the chicken.
- Rest – before and after: Taking out the chicken 30 minutes to one hour before cooking will allow the bird to cook evenly. In a tropical climate like Singapore, 20 to 30 minutes should suffice. However, if in a cool area/air conditioned environment – one hour would be ideal. Like a steak, it is important to allow the chicken to rest for at least 15 minutes after removing from the oven to allow the juices to flow through the meat.
- Rotate: To ensure an even colour on the skin, rotate the pan halfway through the cook time.
- Meat thermometer: A meat thermometer is probably one of the best kitchen tools I have in my drawers. Stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone) and the chicken is done when the temperature reaches 75°C.
This marinade recipe is adapted from ohsweetbasil. Mix all the ingredients into a large bowl and save one tablespoon of the seasoning before adding in the softened butter to sprinkle inside the cavity of the chicken to make it extra tasty.
Don’t forget to add the marinade under the skin of the breast to ensure maximum flavour!
This is optional – if you want to use gravy granules instead, that is fine too. I use the drippings from the chicken to make an amazing gravy. Place the celery, carrot, thyme, onion and garlic at the bottom of the deep roasting pan. This will help roast the vegetables to create a depth of flavour for the gravy, but also help prevent the drippings from burning the pan. There are two camps about adding liquid to the bottom of the pan – I added chicken stock this time, but didn’t feel like it did anything different.
There is a special ingredient in this gravy and that is strawberry jam! I got this idea from Jamie Oliver’s roast beef recipe and he added jam into the gravy too and I feel it works just as well for chicken gravy. You can leave this out, but I like the sweetness the jam adds to the flavour. Try it and let me know what you think :)
Serves three to four
- 1.5kg whole chicken
- 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 125g butter, softened
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, cut in half
- 1 bulb of garlic, cut in half lengthwise
- 200g brown button mushrooms, sliced (optional)
- 1 tbsp strawberry jam (optional)
- 4 to 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup milk or 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Use a kitchen towel to pat dry the chicken
- Generously rub salt all over the chicken and also sprinkle some into the cavity
- Cover and keep in fridge overnight or at least eight hours
- Remove chicken from fridge the next day 30 minutes to 1 hours before cooking
- Preheat oven to 200°C
- In a large bowl, combine the marinade ingredients except the butter and mix well
- Add one tablespoon of the marinade into the cavity of the chicken
- Add softened butter to the remaining marinade mixture and mix well
- At the top of breast, gently pull the excess skin towards you and lift, then push your fingers through between the skin and the breast to make a small pouch
- Use a flat spatula to help you get to the other end of the chicken
- Add marinade under the skin and use your fingers to press against the skin to spread marinade out
- Rub remaining marinade all over the chicken
- Add carrot, celery stalks, onion, garlic and fresh thyme to the bottom of the roasting pan
- Place rack above the vegetables
- Place chicken on the rack
- Roast for 30 minutes
- After 30 minutes, rotate the pan and roast for another 30 minutes
- If the chicken gets too brown, place aluminium foil over the pan and continue roasting for the remaining time
- Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh, without touching the bone, and if the temperature reaches at least 75°C, the chicken is ready
- If you do not have a meat thermometer, insert a knife between the leg and thigh, the juices should run clear if the chicken is ready
- Remove from oven and place rack and chicken on a separate baking tray
- If the material of your roasting pan allows, place it on the stove with the vegetables
- Add flour and cook for one minute
- Deglaze the pan with white wine and chicken stock
- Add jam, salt and pepper
- Boil for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens
- Use a potato masher to mash the garlic, onions and vegetables
- Pour the contents of the roasting tray through a strainer into a separate pot
- Add mushrooms and milk or heavy cream into the pot and continue boiling for another 10 minutes
- Carve chicken and serve with hot gravy and your choice of sides!