Quick and Easy Herby Roast Chicken

Prior to leaving for our overnight stay in the Blue Mountains, I took a leg of lamb out of the freezer and left it on the bench to thaw out for a Sunday night roast on our return.  I do try to be organised!

On our way home and after we had visited The Sweetest Thing, I had red aniseed balls rattling around in my mouth and Carl couldn’t stand the noise so was begging me to stop crunching them.  He could have joined in but alas, he doesn’t like aniseed.  Anyway, I was thinking about that leg of lamb on the bench and how at 2.7kgs (6lbs) it was quite a substantial leg and that it was probably too large for just the five of us.  So in between aniseed balls I phoned my parents and asked if they would like to come for dinner at 6pm.  They would love to.  Excellent.  We’d be home by five, I’d have the roast on by 5.15, then have 45 minutes to tidy up, purchase a few things from the local shops so there was something on the table besides lamb, and probably a few minutes leftover to breath.

Herby Roast Chicken with steamed greens

Herby Roast Chicken with steamed greens

Then the text messages started coming in from Arabella.

‘I had some people over for drinks last night.  Sorry mum’.

‘I was going to clean up but then I was called in to work.  Sorry mum’.

‘I did stack the dishwasher but I couldn’t empty it because it hadn’t finished before I had to go to work.  Sorry mum’.

‘And Archie didn’t have time to help because he had to go to work too but he brought all the glasses down from his room’.

Hmmm.  Not sounding promising.

Bunches of different herbs.

Bunches of different herbs.

So it was with reluctance that I put the key into the front door as I was fearful of what I might find but pretty much the damage was contained to only the kitchen so I’d consider that a win.

Surveying the scene, my eyes fell upon the kitchen bin.  Uni students believe a bin doesn’t have a finite limit on what it can hold and therefore, a bin never needs to be emptied.  You just keep stuffing down the contents until you get that little inch of space you need and then you pile in more refuse.  And having created that inch of space you can then move away with a clear conscience that certainly, it was not your turn to empty the bin.  It never is a uni student’s turn because they are persistent in their efforts to squash garbage.  So I took out the garbage, emptied the recycling, emptied the dishwasher, re-stacked the dishwasher, turned on the oven and wiped down the benches.  It was when I was wiping down the benches that I noticed I hadn’t seen that 2.7kg leg of lamb on any of my kitchen benches.

A chicken minus its back bone

A chicken minus its back bone

‘Arabella must have put it back in the fridge’, I thought.  But it wasn’t in the fridge.  No, Arabella had gone one step further and returned it to the freezer.  And there it was, solid as a brick.  Why couldn’t she have put her hands on the garbage instead of my roast?  But that’s the sort of help you get from teenagers; it’s very sub-par.

It was now nearly six o’clock and with nothing to cook I switched off the oven and quickly phoned my parents to say owing to the fact there was no dinner, I was retracting my offer.

Delicately beginning to separate the skin from the breast

Delicately beginning to separate the skin from the breast

But I still needed to cook for the family and I wanted something quick and easy that could readily be sourced from the only store that would still be open at that hour on a Sunday night – the local IGA.  I ran there with my trolley and they had one solo chicken left on the shelves.  It was mine.  I made a roast chicken that cooks quickly because you remove the back bone and flatten it out and I served it with pan juices spooned over it, some quinoa and steamed greens.  It’s a great family meal if you’re short on time, money, energy and have had your plans thwarted.  And here’s the recipe…

Herby butter has been rubbed under the skin and the chicken is all ready for the oven

Herby butter has been rubbed under the skin and the chicken is all ready for the oven

Quick and Easy Herby Roast Chicken

Serves:  4-6

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  I bought a free-range chicken for around $10.00.  If you have herbs in your garden it won’t cost you more than that.  And this is a great way to use up the leftover herbs you have sitting at the bottom of the fridge.

  • 60g softened butter
  • large handful chopped herbs (I used sage, parsley, oregano, chives and rosemary but any combination will do).
  • tsp dijon mustard
  • a garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 x 1.6kg free-range chicken, washed and dried with paper towel
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 180C (375F) fan-forced or 200C (400F) ordinary oven.

In a small bowl combine butter, herbs, mustard, garlic and seasoning.  Mix well.

Turn chicken breast-side down.  Taking a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut out the backbone and feed to your dogs.

Cover a baking tray with baking paper and place chicken skin-side up on the tray.  The chicken should be opened up and lying flat.  Very carefully and using clean hands, loosen the skin from the breast on both sides because this is where you’re going to stuff that herby butter.  Do the same with the legs, starting with loosing the skin from the cut thigh and carefully move your fingers across the thigh and over to the leg.

For the next step it’s easiest to just use your fingers and yes, this process is messy.  Take small handfuls of the herby butter and push it between the skin and the breast then do the same with the thighs and legs.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the skin, just enough to give it a bit of a gloss and you can lightly season the skin as well (depends on how much seasoning you put in the herby butter).

Place on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 minutes.  Now there’s nothing to do except prepare some steamed vegetables, potatoes, rice or quinoa.

When chicken is cooked, allow to rest for 5 minutes then separate into portions using tongs.  Spoon some of the pan juices over the plated chicken and relax.

Who will carve?

Who will carve?




  1. Gosh there’s nothing better than a delicious herby roast chicken – such a classic recipe! Thanks for sharing another great recipe Charlie 😀

  2. Oh charlie, you are so versatile! I guess you have to be, with a family like yours. Good on you for having a quick alternative up your sleeve (so to speak). I bet the chicken was delicious.

  3. I have a confession: I clearly never left uni. student status when it comes to bin emptying because my mission, my overwhelming mission, is to always squash things down so I don’t have to take it outside. I feel quite justified in this approach because we’ve settled the division of jobs so that taking out the rubbish is not in my domain (and pretty much everything else is…), but I will grant that it sometimes leads to bin disasters when that inch I need is not really to be found!

    Bin issues aside, what an unhelpful movement of lamb, but I think you rescued things brilliantly.

  4. Is it safe to leave a leg of lamb out all weekend to defrost? I don’t cook lamb so I wouldn’t know. I’m sorry your plans didn’t work out; i’m always a little surprised at Carl’s lack of participation in cleaning up the children’s messes — JT would have been all over it, leaving me to cook.
    I’m loving the fast cooking technique you use for this chicken Charlie, it’s a really lovely presentation too! What a shocker about the price of the chicken! A free range chicken in Toronto would set you back about $20! I was once at the market getting meat and the guy in front of me was clearly on a mission for his wife, shopping list in hand. He ordered 4 free range chicken breasts and almost fainted at the price: $68! I could hear his thoughts very clearly, my wife told me to get these and I will be so in deep sx#! if I didn’t come home with them. Having said that, I do try to buy free range as often as possible.

    • Hi Eva, we weren’t even gone 24 hours so the lamb was perfectly fine to sit on the bench, especially as our weather has turned quite cold and we don’t heat our homes like you would in Canada. Carl didn’t help in the kitchen as he was collecting our son then unpacking the car. It’s amazing to me how expensive free-range chicken is in Canada. I would have thought the prices in Canada would have been similar to here.

  5. Oh I was so worried about what might happen after you got those texts! It was good that it was just confined to one room-a definite win! 😀

  6. So what happened to the lamb? And how many would that chicken feed? I have three growing boys and I think I’d need two just for them.

    • Hi Tammy. It was a 1.6kg chicken so would feed four. I think it looks smaller in the images than it actually was. But yes, with teenagers, I’ve been known to cook more than one chicken at a time too.

  7. I thought you were going to write that the uni students ATE the lamb.

  8. It’s amazing how versatile mothers have to be. We make dinner out of thin air. Since my kids are just like yours, inconveniently helpful, I know what you go through!
    Chicken looks simple, delicious and perfect!

    Nazneen xx

  9. Your kids sound similar to mine. The garbage can be overflowing and nobody will do anything about it on their own. If I ask, then yes. But other than that…. Like putting a new toilet paper on the roll.

  10. Your herbed chicken looks wonderful and you still have lamb to look forward to! My son is home from college, and our household seems to be simular 😉

  11. Your spatchcock herby chicken sounds yummy. As Eva said, free-range chicken is pretty pricey locally so I don’t buy it often but fresh herbs are even more dear. The grocery stores charge a premium for them so I rarely buy any especially as I use so little of the bunch I’m forced to buy. I wish I had a green thumb to grow my own.

    I’m looking forward to being inspired by your leg of lamb. I have one (and 2 whole ducks, one larger and one smaller) currently sitting in my freezer. Of course, right now I have a craving for beef. The rarer the better. 🙂

  12. I wondered what the house was going to look like when you walked in. But it didn’t sound too bad. I do that with the bin, not a uni student but definitely guilty of not taking the rubbish out. I can’t believe that your roast had gone back in the freezer!!!

  13. Were we that hopeless as uni students? Probably yes.

    What a great way to get it cooked quick. It says a lot about you that you put on such a lovely meal after a weekend away. My family would have been lucky to get eggs.

  14. Sigh. Arabella was trying to be helpful I guess, but now you’ve got a frozen-defrosted-refrozen leg of lamb in the freezer. It’s something my lot would do too – so often I’ve had to say, “exactly WHY did you do that?” 😉

    The chicken sounds brilliant, Charlie. I suspect I’ve had ordered in takeaway, but this is a much healthier option! xx

  15. Crazy teenagers! That looks a pretty good dinner for a rushed meal. The chicken looks quite weird spread out like that. LOL.

  16. I think all teenagers think that there are secret “cleanup fairies” that live in the house and magically tidy up the house. I feel your pain. Easy peasy dinner looks delicious however I think one of my boys could probably eat that whole bird easily so have to adjust for teenager portion sizes.

  17. Oh Arabella. I love that she tried to help at least! You chicken looks wonderful Charlie. I roasted a chicken yesterday too but mine wasn’t nearly as fancy. You just reminded me I have the bones in the fridge to make stock. Must get on that!

  18. haha ^.^ Right at the beginning I had a feeling that similar would happen to you. That you would be able to do that in 45 minutes would have meant that you are a super mum. Anyway you are a supper mum after reading about your kids habits. lol I think so you wouldn’t like me if you knew that I have the same garbage habit. Stuff it and squeeze it full on! At least you had the energy to get the chicken and prepare it in time. I would have given up already! 😉

  19. I can see the look on your face when you found the lamb in the freezer. I saw Donna Hay do a chicken like that once and said to myself that I should try it. I’m glad you did so now I know I can do it too. 🙂

  20. Your story makes me laugh, because I know it all to well! Chicken looks fab, great idea to cut out the back bone 🙂

  21. I was expecting a lamb tragedy Charlie, or for you to say that the lamb was thrown into the bag of garbage! Your dinner substitute looks yummy indeed, and is definitely better than anyone had a right to expect after all that hassle 🙂 Yummy herbs, and the perfect way too dress up dinner in a hurry!

  22. Aah, another challenging day in the life of having teenagers Charlie. You have more grace and patience than I think I ever could.
    Fabulous roast chicky.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  23. Kids! Life with our kids is never dull. I repeat, “You are a saint, Charlie.” I haven’t cooked a roast chicken in ages, but this simple recipe inspires. And I definitely want some red aniseed balls rattling around in my mouth!

  24. Looks like a delicious back-up plan! And, now I’m thinking I approach the trash bin like a student. I hate taking out the garbage!

  25. Where did the lamb go? Did I miss it 🙂

  26. I love easy roasted chicken recipes! Yours sounds divine!

  27. You are a good mum! I would have made my family eat grilled cheese sandwiches 🙂 But I’m glad you made roast chicken…I was going to buy a whole chicken at the butcher shop today, but the line was a mile long (darn holiday weekend). I will go back next week. And I’m glad to know that ignoring the full garbage is not limited to the kids at my house :/

    PS…thanks for your kind words about Steve. It’s been another rough week. xo

  28. At least that lamb went back in the freezer for another day, I thought you were going to tell us they have cooked and fed hoards of friends with it. Good idea to take out the backbone of the chicken making it cook so much quicker. Clever Girl.

  29. This looks like a great recipe but do you eat the skin? 🙁 Can I make this & not eat the skin? The meal looks lovely though!

  30. Charlie, your instructions for removing the bone were a hoot! On a serious note, your chicken looks delectable. Thanks for another great recipe and an entertaining read!

  31. Great looking chicken! I don’t often spatchcock it, but I should more often – it cooks faster. Sorry about the lamb, though – that’s my favorite red meat, and I’m always disappointed when I think I’m going to get it, and I don’t. Fun post – thanks.

  32. You kept your cool…..lol!!! I would have blasted off through the roof. But obviously your kids know what a softy their Mom is, and brilliant too. What an awesome rescue!! Love the chicken.

  33. Sadly I think My kids have caught that bin stuffing condition and they are YEARS off uni yet! That chicken does look good and would win over a lamb roast in my book 😉 xx

  34. Oh my goodness! I would have had kittens if this happened to me (my mother’s favorite saying, haha!). Good thing you figured something out. This chicken does look very delicious indeed 😀

  35. This chicken looks delicious! Butter, mustard and herbs — sounds like a winning dish to me. And teenager help is sub-par made me giggle. 🙂 I just love your stories Charlie.

  36. That looks like a great meal – and food is food and as long as the company is happy and fed, what does it really matter? Sometimes I think all this worrying about food is bad for our mental health to be honest. These things happen to me all the time. In fact working out what should come out of the freezer when and then we change our plans and have to cook stuff and put it back in the freezer as cooked meals… anyway I am sure you are more organized than me. And the leg of lamb will re-appear one day and be a star meal for a gathering !

  37. When it’s all said and done, it’s mighty hard to beat a roast chicken with herbs! I love the way you flattened yours and I imagine that makes it cook more quickly?

  38. Awww poor you coming home to a fearful sight but glad it turned out better than you expected hehe I’m just like your kids I never empty the rubbish bin gosh I’m so bad 😛 LOL That’s so funny that Arabella returned it back to the freezer I know she meant well xox

  39. I would have a chicken like that any day, as much as I love lamb.
    Every time I read your stories I dread the late teen age years that are coming up… You are so relaxed about everything. How DO you do it?

  40. lol, retracting your offer… oh dear! I don’t think I’ve had to do that before… still, at least it was your parents and not someone who might judge you for such a mishap! Glad to see you were all able to eat well that night anyway, without having to resort to such things as takeaway pizza!

  41. That must be extremely frustrating, but when in doubt stuff a bird with herbs and let the magic happen!!

  42. What a beautiful roast chicken! Just started doing the butterfly cut for roast chicken a few years back and I love it! Seems to make the cooking process easier and faster. Bobby loves roasting them on the grill which is fine with me. The dijon mix pressed under the skin sounds wonderful! Great save! I did have to go back and find out where the lamb ended up. Well, Arabella meant well. 🙂

  43. Why oh why Charlie, do they think in the exact opposite way that you think they might. Its on the bench thawing…..I know ill put it back in the freezer!. Sadly this would probably happen here too. Lucky the shops are close to you

Speak Your Mind