Life Eat & Drink Margaret Fulton’s perfect roast chook

Margaret Fulton’s perfect roast chook

Hardie Grant
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Ensure you buy a large, free-range organic roasting chicken and this meal will be special. The French way of roasting chicken is to add stock to the baking dish and to baste the chicken with the stock throughout the cooking process.

The chicken may appear pale, but miraculously the skin turns a lovely golden brown at the end of the cooking and the flesh is kept beautifully moist. The potatoes taste good too, having taken in some of the flavour of the chicken. Should you also decide to stuff the chicken, I’ve included one of the best stuffings I know.


• 1.8kg free-range organic chicken
• 60g butter or 1/4 cup olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
• 6 tarragon or continental parsley stalks
• 3 strips orange rind
• 1 cup chicken stock
• 500g baby new potatoes or 4 large desiree potatoes, peeled and quartered
• 1/2 cup white wine
• Lemon and parsley stuffing


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put a little butter or oil, salt, pepper, tarragon or parsley stalks and orange rind inside the cavity of the chicken. If you fancy stuffing the chicken, refer to the recipe for lemon and parsley stuffing.

2. Truss the chicken and rub all over with remaining butter or oil. Turn the chicken on its side on a roasting rack in baking dish with ½ cup of the chicken stock. Add the potatoes to the dish and roast the chicken for 20 minutes. Turn on the other side, baste with stock and turn the potatoes.

3. Reduce the heat to 190°C and cook for a further 50 minutes, turning and basting every 15 minutes and adding more stock when necessary (about another ½ cup). Towards the end of cooking, add the wine and turn the chicken on its back for the last 15 minutes to brown the breast. Turn the potatoes from time to time. There should be just enough stock to keep the juices in the pan from scorching.

4. To test, run a fine skewer into the thigh joint of the chicken. The juices should be clear, with no pink. Remove the chicken from the pan and discard the string. Keep in a warm place to rest.

5. Remove the potatoes and keep warm while making gravy, or you can simply deglaze the pan. If so, place the baking dish over a moderate heat, add 1 cup chicken stock or white wine and scrape up the sediments to mix with the liquid.

6. Let it bubble for a few minutes to become syrupy. Pour into a jug and keep warm to serve with the chicken.

7. You may like to carve some of the breast meat and cut the remaining chicken into joints. Arrange the chicken on a heated serving dish, surrounded with the potatoes.

8. Serve with the stuffing, carrots and young cooked green vegetables, and the pan sauce or gravy.

Stuffing ingredients

• 4 cups fresh white breadcrumbs
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 15g butter
• 3/4 cup continental parsley, chopped
• 2 teaspoons lemon rind, grated
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
• Lemon juice or chicken stock, to moisten


1. Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking tray and dry in a 160°C oven, but do not colour. Cook the onion with the butter over a low heat for about 5 minutes, until softened. Mix with the breadcrumbs, parsley and lemon rind. Add the egg, salt and pepper and a little lemon juice or stock to bind. Toss together lightly with a fork – don’t over-mix.

To make the gravy

• Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the pan juices and put the pan over a gentle heat. Add 1 scant tablespoon flour and stir well, until lightly browned. Add 1½ cups chicken stock or stock and water, and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a small saucepan to keep warm or pour into a jug or gravy boat.

Cream gravy: make as above but just before serving stir in ¼ cup cream and cook a little, just until thickened.

Mushroom gravy: pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the pan juices and put the pan over a gentle heat. Add 8–10 sliced button mushrooms to the pan and cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring and turning together to cook evenly. Proceed as for gravy, stirring in ¼ cup cream at the end.

To truss a chicken

• Put the chicken on its back, pull the skin over the neck and secure by folding the wing tips back over the skin. Run kitchen string across the outside end of the breast, around the wings, cross under the back, then bring the string back up to tie the legs together, keeping them close to the body. If you want to stuff the chicken, put some of the stuffing into the neck end – don’t fill it too tightly – and some into the body cavity. Allow plenty of space for the stuffing to swell and stay light.

Recipe courtesy of

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