Recipe: My lemon-tarragon roast chicken

Every food blogger will tell you: recipes get you readers. The web may be bursting at the seams with 1001 recipes for beef stew, spaghetti bolognese and meatloaf, share your family recipe for roast chicken and your viewing stats will go through the roof.

Which brings me to….my roast chicken recipe with lemon and tarragon. Chefs say you can judge a cook by his or her roast chicken. This recipe makes me stand proud. I make it about once a month, if not more. My two men, who are not too crazy about chicken, make an exception for this one. (You know that mad dash to the supermarket, on a crazy Tuesday night, to buy a rotisserie chicken for a quickie dinner? Does not work in this abode…)

What makes my chicken so popular with the boys? Butter, she says without guilt. I mash it with a fork, add lemon zest and fresh tarragon, then slide all under the bird’s skin. It makes for the most tender, flavourful breast meat you’ve ever tasted. Is it healthy? Probably not, though most of the fat ends up at the bottom of the pan. Is it good? What, did you doubt it?

Surely you were not expecting food porn, with a camera-ready chicken in its serving platter, surrounded by parsley, its legs neatly tied, maybe even crowned with little paper crowns? Don’t know when I’ll ever have the time, okay, the patience, for food staging. So here’s the bird, legs in the air, in my mother’s old rotisserie pan. Maybe our Sundays are not so different from yours?


  • 1. To start, dab your chicken dry with a paper towel so it roasts more easily. (Forget what grandma did, NEVER wash chicken under the tap. If it has salmonella, you’ll have infected everything in the sink.)
  • 2. Gently slide your hand under the skin to loosen it away from the flesh. With your fingers, poke through the connective tissue running down the middle. Loosen the skin from both breast and upper thighs. Proceed carefully not to pierce skin, which isn’t as fragile as you might think though.
  • 3. In a bowl, combine butter, zest from your lemon and the chopped tarragon. Slide this butter under the skin. Don’t worry if it goes in in lumps, you can just massage the chicken at the end to smother the butter evenly.
  • 4. Season chicken in and out, generously. Prick your whole zested lemon and slide it into the cavity.
  • 5. Hop it goes into a roasting pan and then the oven preheated at 200°C (400°F) for 20 minutes. Then reduce oven temp to 175°C (350°C) and continue cooking one hour or so depending on the bird’s size. When you prick the chicken in the upper thigh and juices run clear, it’s done.
  • 6. Repeat the above steps up to once a week, for nifty leftovers that will so help with figuring out the kids’ lunchbox.