Sunday roast: Royal chef shares ‘key’ tip when cooking chicken – plus favourite recipe

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Cooking a traditional roast dinner is all down to timing every component right so it all comes together at the right time. While some may prefer beef over chicken, a roast can be tailored to everyone’s likes and dislikes.

It is believed that the roast dinner first came about during King Henry VII’s rule in 1485. 

It has since been a tradition in the UK and is typically consumed on a Sunday afternoon or evening.

Speaking to, former royal chef Jeff Baker, Farmison & Co, shared some top tips on how to master a roast chicken.

He said: “Make sure to brine the chicken – this will help to lock in the juices, enhancing the natural flavour of the chicken, and make sure you avoid a dry cut, keeping the meat juicy and tender.

“You should allow the chicken to sit fully immersed in the chilled brine for between six to 12 hours, if possible.

“Before roasting the chicken, you should thoroughly massage using a moderate amount of butter, ensuring the whole chicken is covered to allow for maximum moisture.”

Jeff recommends placing the chicken on a trivet of vegetables when preparing to roast.

He said: “This will allow the flavours to combine together and give those vegetables an extra richness and meaty flavour.”

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When cooking a roast dinner, there are many vegetables to choose from to accompany the meat.

Although this is down to personal preference, the former royal chef advises picking vegetables that compliment the meat.

Jeff said: “For roast chicken, vegetables such as carrot, onion and celery work well together.

“Adding a few sprigs of thyme also pairs perfectly during the roasting process.

“Using the excess juices from cooking the meat to make your gravy is a key part in any roast dinner.

“All those flavours curated during the roasting will make for the tastiest gravy, with a rich meaty flavour.”

Roast chicken ingredients: 

– One free range chicken

– Two litres of water

– 200g fine sea salt

– 100g golden caster sugar

– Eight black peppercorns

– One bay leaf

– One piece of rosemary

– Peel of half a lemon

– Melted butter to rub on chicken

Method for the brine:

Jeff recommends bringing one litre of water to a soil and adding the salt and sugar before the herbs, spices and peel.

Then, remove from the heat and add the final litre of cold water and chill.

Add the chicken and immerse it in the chilled solution for six to 12 hours before removing from the brine and quickly rinsing in cold water then air dry before roasting.

Method for roasting:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius fan assisted or 200 degrees celsius without a fan (gas six).

Massage the chicken with a little melted butter before roasting for one hour until crispy.

To carve the chicken, divide the breast and leg meat evenly and serve with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables as well as gravy.

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