Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Butterflied Rosemary Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables

If you feel that you have spent quite enough time in the kitchen over Christmas and want to prepare some meals this week which are incredibly tasty but require the minimum amount of hands on cooking time, you may wish to give this chicken dish a go. Provided you are not still eating leftover turkey and sickened with fowl for the time being, this roast chicken has a beautifully festive appearance and flavour. You should perhaps, however, avoid preparing it this weekend, as chicken is considered a very unlucky foodstuff to eat at New Year. This is because chickens scratch backwards and this is seen to be regressive at a time which should be spent looking forward. Prepare it therefore during the week or wait until the year end celebrations are over.


1 4lb free range, organic chicken
3 or 4 medium potatoes
1 medium red onion
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C. Peel the potatoes and chop them in to fairly large chunks. Peel and quarter the red onion. Lightly oil a roasting tray with olive oil and add the vegetables. Season with salt and black pepper.

Strip the leaves from the rosemary sprigs by simply pulling them in the opposite direction from which they are growing. Scatter them evenly over the potatoes and onion.

Prior to adding it to the roasting tray, the chicken is going to be opened up by removing the backbone. Ideally, a Chinese cleaver should be used for this purpose but a very sharp and sturdy knife will do the job.

Begin by sitting the chicken on a chopping board on its neck (thick) end, the breasts facing away from you. Particularly where you are unfamiliar with this procedure, you may want to begin by feeling down the backbone and where you are going to cut on either side of it. You will find it is about an inch in width.

Use your cleaver to cut down either side of the bone, steadying the chicken at the top with your free hand, well away from the blade. The backbone should then simply pull free and you will be able to open out the chicken as shown below.

Wash the chicken and pat it completely dry with kitchen paper. Lay it breasts side up on top of the vegetables.

Drizzle the chicken with plenty of olive oil and rub it in with your hands. Season well with pepper and particularly sea salt. Pop it in to your oven for about an hour and a quarter.

Take the chicken out of the oven and stick a skewer in to the thickest part of the thigh. If it is ready, the juices will be completely clear. If any trace of red or pink remains, cook for another fifteen minutes and test again. Cover the tray with foil and allow to rest for fifteen minutes before carving and serving on a bed of the vegetables.


  1. Thanks Gordon,

    This is the type of dinner I like –quick, easy and tasty.

  2. Thank you, Mireya. I'm glad you like it and very much hope you enjoy it should you give it a try.

  3. Well, this looks really tasty. I think I know what I'm cooking for dinner Saturday evening. Thanks for posting this :) I'll be sure to post back with the results (good or bad).

  4. Hi, Xsyntriq. Thanks for commenting and I really hope that you enjoyed the chicken!