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How to cook the perfect roast chicken

Updated on October 21, 2015

Heston Blumethal's method: Plus, why you need a food thermometer

The transatlantic phones have been buzzing again. My old friend Caroline called from London, but not with her usual fashion tips this time, but to tell me about ... the best way to cook roast chicken. (To me, a vegetarian!) But she didn't care about that, she was amazed and had to share. 'Don't tell anyone about this' she said 'it's a secret recipe'. So here I am. Hehe. Don't tell her I gave the secret away.

A celebrity chef's chicken recipe cooked by an actor

Caroline is divorced - and hungry. (In both senses of the word, if you get my meaning).

Her ideal man is one who is a fabulous cook. It seems that what she quaintly called a 'suitor' cooked a roast chicken dinner for her and she hasn't stopped raving about it since. Her boyfriend, an actor, (she swore me to secrecy regarding exactly who but I know you've heard of him) claims to have been taught personally by Heston Blumenthal himself to cook a simple, but perfect roast chicken.

Instructional video

Personally, I rather suspect that he simply saw the video online, actors being actors. I found it easily on YouTube, as I imagine he did. The instructions are below, or you can see the video here that explains in more detail.

Image from Wikimedia. I couldn't ask Caroline for a pic of her 'secret' recipe :)

What you need to make the perfect roast chicken

  • 1 chicken (that goes without saying, really
  • Butter
  • Water
  • Salt
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 whole lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper & lemon slices to serve

How to proceed

Once you have removed any packaging and the giblets that often come inside the bird, be sure to remove the string or elastic that ties together the legs. Make sure that the legs and wings have space between them and the body of the chicken.

Take a large container (a plastic washing-up bowl is suggested) and fill three quarters full of cold water.Add salt.

The proportions are important here. For every liter of water, you need 60 grams of salt. (Which I believe is 1 oz. for 1 pint).

Add the chicken, cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

Drain the water away, pat the bird dry and then Heston recommends removing the wishbone as this makes the chicken easier to carve.

Preheat the oven to 90 degrees C (195 degrees F). Yes, this seems crazy but see the video.

Rub butter all over the chicken's skin then stuff the bird with the bunch of thyme and the whole lemon.

Place in the oven for 90 minutes.This is where the probe (thermometer) is needed. Check the temperature by pushing the probe into the thickest part of the flesh.

Blumenthal says that a temperature of 75C (160F) is recommended for safety. Important - the roasted chicken now needs to be left alone -out of the oven - for forty five minutes. (It won't look golden and properly cooked but don't worry).

Turn up your oven to its maximum heat, baste the bird with the juices from the roasting pan. Place in the hot oven for ten minutes to brown the skin. Remove and serve.

BARBECUE COOKING THERMOMETER - Best Pocket-size Digital Thermometer for Cooking/Meat/Barbecue/Food/Liquids - Accurate Quick-read Probe + Data Hold for Easy Read and Last Measure Memory; Clear LCD Display and Power Saving Auto Shut Off. Best Lifetime Guarantee
BARBECUE COOKING THERMOMETER - Best Pocket-size Digital Thermometer for Cooking/Meat/Barbecue/Food/Liquids - Accurate Quick-read Probe + Data Hold for Easy Read and Last Measure Memory; Clear LCD Display and Power Saving Auto Shut Off. Best Lifetime Guarantee

The probe is essential for this dish but you'll find yourself using it over and over for so many kitchen tasks (especially when grilling). Because Heston's recipe uses metric measurements, there's no need for conversion either as this displays centigrade and Fahrenheit.


Learn more about this chef who combines the creativity and artistry of cooking with science.

Heston Blumenthal at Home
Heston Blumenthal at Home

Who is this amazing chef who defies the cooking conventions that we have been brought up with? As a successful restaurateur, he is considered to be part chef and part scientist. Bring his methods and theories into your own home cooking with this highly popular book.


Who is Heston Blumenthal?

He trained under the fabulous Marco Pierre White. He worked with Gordon Ramsey ... and ever since, he has challenged everything we know - or thought we knew - about cooking.

Can we really make a pizza in one minute? He challenges everything - every convention.

Hestom maty be what some would refer to as a true English eccentric but he is revolutionising the way we look at the food we eat and the recipes we follow.

© 2013 Jackie Jackson


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    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @sousababy: Let me know how it goes. I won't be able to report back to Caroline though :)

    • sousababy profile image


      4 years ago

      Yes, I don't like to "over" spice chicken. Simple (and fresh) ingredients are the key. Thank goodness folks know now to check internal temps of poultry (and all meat). Fabulous recipe, will be trying it soon.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      a good chicken sounds really good to me right now.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Susan Zutautas: I used to use the giblets too - to make the gravy.

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I wish they'd quit taking the heart, giblets and livers out of the birds here as I used to boil them up for my dogs to eat. They sell them separately now :( This recipe sounds delicious and I happen to have a chicken that's been calling out to me to get cooked.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Brite-Ideas: I couldn't resist :)

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      sounds good - and the secret is out! lol


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