My first roast chicken


Seriously.  Imagine being 27 and never having made a roast chicken?  I’m not sure how that even happened.

Since moving into our new flat and having a telly for the first time in four years, I’ve already settled into a very comfortable and enjoyable Sunday TV routine.  It starts with about three hours of Come Dine With Me, then goes on to Jamie At Home, then to The River Cottage with Hugh Farningly-Wetherall, and then I can flick between Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare USA (quite poor really compared to the UK series) and Hell’s Kitchen with the monsterously terrifying Marco Pierre-White.

Hugh Featherby-Woothington is my favourite of all the cheffy men, with Jamie in a very, very close second.  I like Hugh because he’s so passionate about the welfare of animals, he’s really nice to everybody and The River Cottage is a great example of how to make steps, small and large, towards being greener and healthier in the way one consumes one’s food

For those of you who are unaware, Hugh has been fighting against the supermarket chains in the UK for the last two or three years or so to get chicken welfare back on the menu.  Obviously, he’s not the only campaigner doing this, but he has raised a remarkable amount of awareness of the issues surrounding chicken welfare and most certainly has affected me in so much as I am more conscious about where my eggs and chicken come from.

So for my first roast chicken, I popped down the Temple Bar Food Market and got a free-range whole chicken from Paddy Jack’s farm stall for €10.  Seeing as I was planning on getting two meals and some soup stock out of the chicken, I think €10 is all right, don’t you?  On a side note – I also bought a goose egg from Paddy Jack which I had for brekkie OMG the SIZE of it, it was BEAUTIFUL.

I also picked up some of the most scrumptious carrots I’ve ever tasted from Denis Healy’s Organic Farm stall.  That’s them in the pic at the top of the post and there’s me trying to connect to them before I put them in me belly.


Heyyyy…how’d you get up on the fourth floor??

We munched half of them raw with some yummy houmous and kept the other half to have with our roast chicken.


I used a BBC Good Food Recipe for this one and it worked perfectly.  It did exactly what it said on the tin, you might say.

What you need for BBC Good Food’s Rosemary & Balsamic Chicken with Roast Onions for four

1 free-range chicken

Good big bunch of rosemary

4 red onions, peeled with ends chopped off but left whole

3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp of honey

Olive Oil

Pre-heat your oven to 170 C/gas mark 5.  The roast chicken will need 1 hour and 20 minutes altogether, plus 20 minutes resting time.With a sharp knife, separate the skin of the chicken with the meaty part.  It should come apart quite easily but just be careful not to rip the skin.  You’re separating the skin to stuff rosemary sprigs in there so make sure you create a deep enough pocket.  You can put your fingers under the skin and go ‘Ewwwwww gross, raw chicken skin’ too if you want to.  I know I did.

After you’ve put one or two good thick sprigs of rosemary in the pockets you’ve created, put the rest of the rosemary in the cavity part of the chicken.  I put around four nice thick sprigs in there.

Season the whole chicken with salt and pepper, put in a roasting tin and pop the four onions in each corner of the tin.  Glug loads of olive oil over the chicken and the onions.  Pop it all in the oven for 40 minutes. for the first roasting phase.

Meanwhile, get your balsamic vinegar and honey drizzle mixture ready.  Just mix it altogether in a bowl until the honey dissolves into the vinegar.  I thought that it wouldn’t be enough mixture but it was loads.  You can also get your spuds or whatever sides you’re planning on having ready at this point.


Rosemary and garlic baby potatoes (roast with chicken for about 40 minutes)

After the first 40 minutes is up, take out the chicken and pour the balsamic vinegar and honey mixture all over the chicken and the onions.  Pop it all back in the oven for another 40 minutes.


About 20 minutes into the second roasting phase, I popped in the spuds.  Remember that the chicken needs at least 20 minutes resting time so if you get the spuds in at this point, they’ll have a good forty minutes which will get them to the point of nice crispy skin and perfectly soft insides.  Also, at this heat and sharing it with the chicken, the garlic goes all crunchy but doesn’t burn.  Yum, those crunchy garlic bits are gooooood!

Once the chicken had been in again for 40 minutes (1 hour and 20 minutes altogether), take it out of the oven, removing the onions from the roasting tin and leaving them to roast for another 20 minutes.  Let the chicken rest for at least 20 minutes.


I steamed the carrots for about 6 minutes right before serving the whole lot.


Beautiful carrots and look at those gorgeous crunchy garlicky bits on the spuds, deeeelish!

Slice up your chicken however you like it and pour the juices from the roasting tin – it should be lovely and sticky with lots of juicy bits too – all over the chicken as a sauce.  It was yum.  Really yum.  I tossed the carrots in a bit of butter and the spuds were ready to go.  The combination of the lovely sweet balsamic sauce with the amazingly sweet roast red onions and the quite tender and not-dry-at-all roast chicken…ahhh, sure, twas lovely.  Really simple home-cooked old-fashioned food upped from my boarding-school-days-standard by using really good ingredients from the Temple Bar Food Market.


It was all extremely stress-free and easy and best of all, there were only three pots to wash up!

I made this on Saturday, so on Sunday we had some yummy roast chicken and pesto sambos, scrumptious.  Then I made some stock from the bones and all the veg that I had in my fridge.  So hopefully that will make the yummy base for some delicious soup, as well as making my friend Hugh Fastidock-Wratheringstock proud.


Rocking roast chicken and pesto sambo for Sunday lunchThat’s what I’m talking about!


We stayed in on Saturday to eat this roast dinner after a very fun night out on Friday at the vs AU night in Dun Laoghaire’s lovely Purty Kitchen.  We saw Villagers (amaaaaazing), Alphastates and the BLINDING And So I Watch You From Afar.  ASIWYFA, as they’re known to their fans, are from Belfast and I have not been able to get their Set Guitars to Kill track from their debut album out of my head since Friday.  And listen, it’s kind of weird to have an instrumental song stuck on repeat in your head.  It’s the main riff at the beginning of the track when it starts to really build up that has been following me around for the weekend.

The rest of their debut album is great as well, with some extremely heavy rock mixed in with splatters of prog rock and loads of other stuff.  They’re one of the best live bands I’ve seen in the last year.  They were so full of energy and obviously in love with what they were doing.  It was great, really great.

Niall put up the mp3 of the track over on his blog, so I’ll just send you over there.  Be prepared for an ear assault.  No wait, that sounds like a negative thing.  An eargasm is probably a better way of putting it.

And So I Watch You From Afar – Set Guitars to Kill – (And So I Watch You From Afar)

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  1. Ooh, am totally going to try roasting a chicken like this next time! (I’d never roasted one myself til about two years ago and haven’t looked back since – the Jamie O recipe is an absolute failsafe).

    Those Denis Healy carrots are freakin’ amaaaaazing at the moment too, going back for more veggie goodness there on Saturday.

    (and also, Hugh Floppy-Whippersnapper3: I so would. Wrong, I know!)

  2. Hai lady! It was a nice one, have to say. The skin went nice and crispy but was kind of sweet and rosemaryish so that was fun!

    Honestly, the carrots were just incredible, I honestly have never tasted anything like them. They were delicious steamed but they were even nicer raw. Really sweet.

    It’s not wrong! He’s a cutie. Although not quite as undeniably hot as Marco PW when he was younger. Jesus have you seen this? Hot!! Although he’s far too scary, I don’t think I could even ask him to pass the salt.

  3. i made this yesterday after i saw your tweet, and weirdly also decided to roast some spuds at the same time! i think i put too much rosemary in under the skin tho, and all the wee leaves stuck to the chicken and required some pickin…. ahem, they’re a bit strong to eat, but the chicken was great.

    my favourite roast chicken recipe is this calorific bad boy, worth every jean size ;-) ….

  4. YUM. What I normally do is slice a lemon in two, then stick both halves up the chicken’s bum. Then just rub the skin in tarragon, olive oil, salt and pepper and wack into the oven for however long it takes. Lemon stops it from drying out and it’s dead easy and dead delicious. x

  5. Gorgeous pics, Aoife, and the chicken looks scrumptious. A roasting chicken is one of the best culinary investments you can make. So good as a first meal, then the lovely left-overs and finally a beautiful soup! All brilliant. Congrats on your first, it looks like you did a marvelous job.

    I agree on buying the very best organic chicken possible. I don’t buy supermarket chicken. Ever.

    Looking forward to checking out those tune/band recommendations too. :)

  6. I guess that’s what you’d call Chicken Lickin’! I love the pic of you squaring up to the carrots – looks like you’re about to show them who’s in charge :)

  7. tit’s the sign of a good chef…if they can cook a good roast chicken…..! the sign of a good waiter is pronouncing it and making it sound more fancy than it is in French…..seriously…..

  8. oh and off to Ginger on Wednesday before we go see Camera Obscura…..whoop whoop!

  9. I’m woozy from staring at that chicken and those carrots. Sad really, to be so besotted by such simple looking food. (Also, it looks like you found a brilliant use for your potted rosemary.) Gastro-porn… I’m so ashamed.

  10. Hi Rich – I put in two medium length sprigs under the chicken and I didn’t remove them after when I was cutting the chicken. There was quite a lot but not too much that it was overpowering. Was dead easy and yum though wasn’t it? That Jamie spanish roast recipe looks yum!

    Hi Ailbhe – that definitely sounds lovely. I’ll be making roasts at least once a month now so I’ll put that in the filing cabinet for another time!

    Hi Diva – I think it was a great investment too, really! It wasn’t even a bit difficult or fiddly, I was really pleased with how it turned out.

    Spud – thanks! Poor carrots, I was trying to intimidate them.

    Manuel – ooooh camera obscura! Love them. Looking forward to seeing them in Dublin this week as well. Enjoy Ginger, thanks again for recommeding it to us that time, we really enjoyed it. Ooooh actually, you’ll like this, I did an email interview with Camera Obscura for and instead of calling their song French Navy, I called it French Laundry, as in the top restaurant in California/the world. Foodie freudian slip!! Lol. They didn’t seem to mind.

    Sugarpie – thank you indeed! Simple is best. I’m so glad you think it looks like food porn :) Yup, the rosemary was given a good home!

  11. hey Aoife great colour on your chicken: if I was there I’d have pulled a Cartman and eaten all the skin off of it on ya! Loreana once made me an interesting twist on roast chicken. She stuffed a layer of black pudding under its skin. The pudding helps keep the breast moist, looks interesting and tastes lovely with the chicken.
    I love using the leftover meat from the back of the chicken for a super-quick curry.

  12. Hey Darragh – why, thank you. Actually, I thought it had burnt when I took it out, you can see all the black bits at the top. But actually that was really crispy and tasty balsamic chicken, not a bit burnt at all at all.

    Woahhhh…I’m SO trying that black pudding chicken thing! That sounds positively cardiacarrestastic!

  13. I have a great fetish for crispy roast chicken skin :P

    So want some now!

  14. TheChrisD – yeah, I’m into the crispy skin too. Some people get squemish about it which is just one of those sad facts of life…yeah, I want another roast chicken now myself!!

  15. I vouch for the lemon in the cavity!

    My all time favourite comfort food :) or ‘mammy dinner’ as it’s called in my house!

  16. Hey Green of Eye – definitely a ‘mammy dinner’!! Gonna try a quiche this weekend I think, which is another mammy dinner in my house :)

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