The First of Many Sunday Roasts

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December 3, 2012 by caitlinvaclark

I think it’s time to let you in on the British tradition of Sunday Roast. For most of us, Sunday is the day of leisure before the next busy week starts, which makes it the perfect day for a roast dinner. The Brits have really nailed it with this tradition: slow cooking a big cut of meat takes only a little bit of prep and forethought.  What’s great about Sunday Roast is that by spending just a little time in the kitchen whenever is convenient for you, you’ll have a gorgeous fragrant aroma filling your home and hearty meal to feed your family. Sunday Roast creates a satisfying leisurely end to your weekend, plus leftovers for the week!

Full disclaimer- I did not actually make a Sunday Roast this weekend. Again, after eating a substantial lunch, we wanted a slightly lighter dinner. So instead we had a kick-ass salmon salad, but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow. Today I want to tell you about my easy to perfect Roasted Chicken recipe with the classic flavors of lemon and thyme. I’ve already made this chicken three times since living in London. It’s just so easy!

Another favorite thing about Sunday Roast is that you can play with the side dishes. Since your main component needs little prep and lots of time in the oven, you can get a bit daring with the accompaniments. Try something new or perfect an old standard. The options are endless and you can feel free to get a bit crazy in your combinations. A simple chicken pairs so well with everything.

The last time I made this chicken, I had been curious about Martha Stewart’s parsnip bread pudding (on her website). I love a savory bread pudding; mushroom and goat cheese is one of my classics. But parsnips are hit or miss for me. I didn’t think I liked them at all until my friend, Beth, simply roasted them with carrots and an incredible olive oil, brought back from her trip to Argentina. They were rich and lush and heavenly. Since Martha’s recipe starts with roasting the parsnips, I thought I’d give it a go of my own. Turns out the sweetness from roasting them, plus the natural tang makes an awesome addition to the creamy bread pudding.


The key to a simple roast is building layers of flavor. Start by filling the chicken carcass with lemon, garlic, onion and thyme.


Using room temperature butter, make a rub for the chicken, mixing in grated lemon peel, fresh thyme leaves, garlic, salt, and pepper.


Use your fingers to gently separate the skin from the breast of the chicken. Rub the butter under the skin and onto the legs. Tress the chicken legs and place prepared chicken onto a bed of carrots, onions and garlic in the roasting pan.


Add 1/3 cup each of wine and broth to the base of the roasting pan. Then cook the chicken in your preheated oven for about 70 minutes, until a meat thermometer placed in the deepest part of the chicken’s thigh reads 165˚ F.


Once the chicken is cooked, place on a carving board and make a gravy if you desire (recipe included). Be sure to reserve the vegetables from the bottom of the pan if you plan to make a chicken stock, but I’ll save that tale for another day.

Caitlin’s Sunday Roast Chicken

serves 4 (or 2 with leftovers)

1 5lb whole chicken

2 onions, cut into 6 wedges each

1 carrot

6 cloves of garlic, smashed, peeled, and divided

4 sprigs of thyme, plus 1 tsp leaves

1 lemon, zested and cut into wedges

2 Tbs. butter, at room temperature

Salt and Pepper

½ Tbs olive oil

1 cup chicken broth, divided

1 cup white wine, divided

1Tbs flour

Preheat the oven to  375˚ F.

Prepare the roasting pan by putting 9 onion wedges, the carrot chopped into inch pieces, and 4 cloves of garlic smashed and peeled, onto the rack to form a bed for the chicken.  Pour in 1/3 cup of broth and 1/3 cup of wine into the base of the pan.  Place the chicken onto the roasting rack.

Mix 1 tsp lemon zest, 1 tsp chopped thyme leaves, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper with the butter.  Separate the skin above chicken breast and rub the butter mix into the pocket above each breast.  Place the remaining garlic, onion, lemon wedges and thyme sprigs into the cavity of the chicken.  Tie the chicken legs together with twine.  Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and crack salt and pepper on the skin.

Roast the chicken for about 70 minutes, until a meat thermometer in the thigh, reads 165˚ F.

Place chicken on carving board and cover with foil to keep warm.  (Reserve the onions, carrots, and garlic from the pan for  a stock.)  Place roasting pan on stove over medium heat and add the flour. Toast for 2 minutes, then add the remaining wine to deglaze the pan.  Once the wine has reduced and the brown bits have been loosened, add the remaining half of the chicken broth. Stir broth into pan and simmer until thick, about 5 minutes.

Carve the chicken and serve with the gravy.


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