The Ultimate Roast Chicken & What To Do With Leftovers

It’s Christmas time and as we all know the Holidays are incomplete without a proper roast chicken.

4 min read
Christmas Special: Roast Chicken Recipe

It’s Christmas time and as we all know the Holidays are incomplete without a properly roast chicken (okay turkey if you live in a different part of the world, but here chicken rules the roost).

While we’d be scrambling to the most instagram-able places to get our Christmas meal fix in other years, this year is all about the warmth of our homes and hearts and the magic of our very own roast chicken.


  • 2 bunches of fresh soft herbs, such as basil, flat-leaf parsley, marjoram – about 60-80 grams

  • 1 lemon (the bigger, the better)

  • 4 fresh Lemon leaves (optional but highly recommended)

  • 1 whole chicken (skin on; no tears on the skin, this is very important)

  • Olive oil – about 2 tablespoons

  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

  • 3 whole heads of garlic (halved)

  • 2 whole onions (halved)

  • 1 stick butter (optional but highly recommended)

  • 1 tablespoon flour

  • ½ Cup Red Wine


Step 1 - Preheat the oven and a roasting tray to 220 Celsius

Step 2 - Finely chop the soft herbs, halve the lemon and tear the lemon leaves. Drizzle some olive oil on the herbs and mix well with salt and pepper.

Step 3 - Rub inside the chicken cavity with sea salt. Grab the skin at the tip of the chicken breasts, making sure that it doesn’t tear, and pull up gently. The skin should start separating from the breast. Slide your other hand under the skin to make two little pockets between the skin and breast meat. Do this slowly and deliberately so that the skin remains intact.

Step 4 - Sprinkle a little salt in the breast pockets and push in most of the chopped herbs. Then cut the butter stick in two and push them inside each pocket. This keeps the breast moist and gives it a delicious buttery herby flavor.

Step 5 - Push the lemon halves into the cavity along with the bay and rosemary sprigs and a whole head of garlic halved. Then pull the skin of the chicken breast forward so that none of the flesh is exposed and tie the chicken up as firmly as possible. If you don’t know how to check this out.

The Ultimate Roast Chicken & What To Do With Leftovers
(Photo: iStock)

Step 6 - Rub a little oil all over the chicken skin, scatter over the remaining chopped herbs, and season very generously with salt and black pepper.

Step 7 - Remove the hot tray from the oven and drizzle with a little oil and line with remaining garlic halves and onions. Put the chicken into the tray making sure it sits on the onions and garlic. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Baste halfway through the roasting period.

Step 8 – Once the chicken is cooked, let it rest on a chopping board for at least 10 minutes. While the chicken is roasting, empty the cavity, squeeze out the garlic and lemons on to the roasting tray. Then splash some water and a tablespoon of flour, let it simmer gently. Season with salt, pepper, and some red wine. Cook for 5 minutes, then strain the juices and you gave the most incredible red wine gravy.

Step 9 – Carve the chicken and serve with your favourite sides and pour a generous splashing of the red wine gravy.

Carving Roast chicken
Carving Roast chicken
(Photo: iStock)

Leftover Roast Chicken Salad

Roast chicken salad
Roast chicken salad
(Photo: iStock)



  • 1/4 cup finely minced onions

  • 1/4 cup vinegar, preferably apple cider or balsamic or white wine

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle

  • Pinch of sugar

For the Salad:

  • A mix of greens, whatever you like: arugula, lettuce, baby spinach, kale, etc

  • Leftover roasted chicken, shredded (about 100 grams)

  • Greek Yoghurt (plain or flavored) – 50 grams

  • choice of herbs/seasonings

  • Shaved parmesan or any other hard cheese

  • Toasted walnuts

  • Orange segments

  • Salt and pepper to taste



Step 1 - Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the onion, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in olive oil. Taste. Adjust seasoning with more salt if necessary. Shake well before using.

Step 2 – Mix chicken with Greek yogurt and any other herbs/seasonings

Step 3 - Place the greens, chicken, cheese, orange, and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour over a little bit of the vinaigrette. Season with pepper. Toss gently. Taste. Adjust vinaigrette or pepper to taste. Serve.

Bonus: Roasted Chicken Sandwich

Spread pesto or mayo or thousand islands or any other sauce/spread on two slices of bread. Add the salad. Serve cold or toasted with butter.

(The author is a lawyer turned business intelligence consultant turned chef. He also designs weekly and monthly meal plans for clients and conducts baking and cooking workshops.)

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