Roast spring chicken

By 'spring chicken' we usually mean a young one, with very tender meat. This easy recipe brings out the best in any good quality chicken, keeping it beautifully moist on the inside while making the outside deliciously crisp.

Serves 5-6, 10 mins preparation, 1 hour 15 mins cooking


  • 1 lemon, juice and grated zest (save the lemon halves)
  • Sea salt and milled black pepper
  • 100g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1.8kg free range chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 300ml boiling water

To serve

  • Spring vegetables or salad
  • New potatoes


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 8.
  2. Mix the lemon zest with a pinch of sea salt and put to one side.
  3. Using your hands, smear the butter all over the chicken and place it in a roasting tin. Season with the pepper and squeeze the lemon juice over.
  4. Put the squeezed-out lemon halves, garlic and thyme inside the chicken cavity.
  5. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes. Baste it with the juices, then turn the oven down to 190°C/gas mark 5 and roast for 40 minutes more, basting occasionally.
  6. Sprinkle the salted lemon zest over the chicken and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven - it should be golden brown and crisp.
  7. Lift and tip the chicken to let the juices run from the cavity back into the roasting tin. Place the chicken on a dish and keep in a warm place for 15 minutes before carving.
  8. Pour 2 tablespoons of the roasting juices into a cup, mix with the flour and blend to a smooth paste. Add the boiling water to the roasting tin and, over a medium heat, whisk in the flour paste to thicken, and then simmer for 2 minutes.
  9. Serve the chicken with spring vegetables or salad, and new potatoes.

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