This is a quick way to roast a small chicken. Change the herbs if you wish - a mixture of herbs can be used or you could use rosemary leaves or sage. You could also replace the garlic with shallots if you wish.


  • 1 x 3 lb (1.35 kg) French traditional free range chicken

  • ½ small lemon, thinly sliced and the slices halved, plus the juice of the

  • remaining ½ lemon

  • 2½ level tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

  • ½ oz (10g) softened butter

  • 1 dessertspoon olive oil

  • 10 fl oz (275ml) dry white wine

  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper


  • 1.

    Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8 / 450°F / 230°C.

  • 2.

    Remove the chicken from the fridge about 30 minutes before you intend to cook it.  Remove the string that holds the legs of the bird together so that the joints are loose – this will take the chill off the bird and help it to cook in the shorter time.

  • 3.

    Make a garlic and herb butter by placing the garlic, 2 tablespoons of the chopped tarragon leaves and the butter in a bowl and combine them with a fork, adding some salt and pepper.

  • 4.

    Place the herb butter inside the body cavity of the bird, along with the halved lemon slices.

  • 5.

    Place the chicken in the greased roasting tin (you will need a solid-based, flameproof roasting tin measuring 9 x 11 inches (23 x 28 cm), 2 inches (5 cm) deep with a little of the olive oil smeared over the base), smear the chicken with the rest of the olive oil all over the skin of the bird. Lastly, season well with salt and black pepper and then pop the roasting tin into the lower third of the oven.

  • 6.

    Roast for 45 minutes without opening the oven door.

  • 7.

    Remove from the oven, put a wooden spoon into the body cavity and, using a spatula to hold the breast end, tip the chicken and let all the buttery juices and slices of lemon pour out into the roasting tin.

  • 8.

    Transfer the bird on to a carving board, cover with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes.

  • 9.

    Meanwhile, using a tablespoon, skim off the excess fat from the juices in the roasting tin, then place the tin over direct heat, add the wine and lemon juice and let the whole lot bubble and reduce to about half its original volume. Now add the remaining tarragon, then taste and check the seasoning. Carve the chicken on to warm plates and add any juices to the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

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