Crispy skin, succulent chicken, with a burnt lemon gravy. That’s what you’ll end up with by following this recipe by Matt Preston from his Cook Book. I’ve made it many times because it’s easy, and doesn’t require many ingredients. It’s not quick though. For best results, prepare the chicken the night before.


1 x 1.6kg free-range chicken
2 x thin-skinned lemons, halved
3 x garlic cloves, smashed in their skins
2 x rosemary sprigs


You can salt the chicken hours before, or even the night before for extra-crispy skin.

To do this, dry the skin of the bird and cavity. Stuff 2 lemon halves into the cavity, along with the garlic and rosemary sprigs. Rub the entire bird – breasts, bottom, legs and wings – with olive oil and salt. Grind over a little pepper.

If you’re doing this the night before, or well ahead of time, put the chicken in a dish or on a plate and keep it in the fridge. You’ll need to bring the chicken back to room temperature before roasting.

Otherwise, place it in a roasting pan. Nestle the other 2 lemon halves face-down in the pan (you want these to burnish in the heat).

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Bake for 1 hour, basting periodically.

When the juices run clear at the thigh or your meat thermometer reaches 68 degrees Celsius remove and rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

To make the burnt lemon gravy, pour the pan juices and the toastiest lemon half into a processor, or use a stick blender and blitz (including the skin of the lemon). Season to taste, or add the juice of the other cooked lemon if you think it needs more zing.

Roast chicken image courtesy of