Roast chicken with lemon and thyme stuffing

Roast chicken with stuffing and gravy.
Roast chicken with stuffing and gravy. Photo: Murdoch Books

You can replace half the stock in the gravy with 250ml (1 cup) dry white wine.


1.5 kg chicken

60ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil

1 large brown onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

160g (2 cups, firmly packed) coarse breadcrumbs, made from fresh crusty bread

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

3 tsp thyme leaves

steamed vegetables, such as asparagus, snowpeas and sugar snap peas, to serve


1½ tbsp plain flour

500ml (2 cups) home-made or good-quality ready-made chicken stock


1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Wash the chicken under cold running water, trim any pockets of fat, then pat dry with paper towel and set aside.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 5 to 6 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until aromatic. Transfer to a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon zest, thyme, salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Spoon into the chicken cavity, stuffing it firmly.

3. Pull the skin on either side of the cavity together, then secure by threading a small, thin metal skewer through the skin several times. Alternatively, use a trussing needle and kitchen string to sew the skin closed. Rub the chicken all over with the remaining olive oil, then season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Truss the legs with kitchen string.

4. Put the chicken in a small flameproof roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180C and roast for another 45 minutes or until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced through the thickest part (between the thigh and body). Transfer to a warmed plate, cover loosely with foil and set aside.

5. To make the gravy, remove the excess fat from the roasting pan. Place the pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 3 to 4 minutes or until smooth and slightly browned. Gradually add the stock, whisking constantly and returning the mixture to a simmer between additions to prevent lumps forming. Simmer, whisking often, for 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened and smooth. Season with salt and pepper, then strain into a warmed jug.

6. Transfer the chicken to a chopping board and use a large sharp knife to carve. Serve immediately with the stuffing, gravy and vegetables.