• Feel Good
  • 7th Oct 2023
  • 0
  • 5 minutes

Ultimate Sunday roast series: classic roast chicken and gravy

Sunday roast season is upon us so we’re sharing the very best roast dinner recipes from Rebecca Wilson’s new cookbook Family Comforts.

Serves: 4–8

Prep: 30 minutes

Roast: 1½–2 hours


2–3 large carrots

1 yellow onion

1 bulb of garlic

1 small lemon

1.2–2kg whole chicken (preferably free-range)

1 tbsp garlic-infused oil

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

1 tsp salt (optional)

1 low-salt chicken stock cube

freshly ground black pepper

For the gravy

250–300ml (9–10½fl oz) low-salt chicken stock*

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce* (optional)

1 tbsp low-salt soy sauce*

1 heaped tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)

(Whenever you see a * next to the letters in the recipe symbols, this indicates that the recipe can be adapted to suit this dietary requirement. Please take care and turn to this section for possible alternatives. *See pages 8–9)


Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan (200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6) and find a roasting tin big enough to fit your chicken with lots of wiggle room, and with sides at least 5cm (2in) deep.

Wash the carrots and place them in the roasting tin. Halve the onion (no need to peel) and nestle it between the carrots. Halve the garlic through it’s equator, slicing through all of the cloves, and squeeze one half between the veg in the centre of the tray. Do the same with the lemon, placing one half in the centre of the tray too.

Make a note of the weight of your chicken, then remove the strings from the chicken and place the remaining lemon and garlic halves inside its cavity. Place the whole bird on top of all the veg, breast-side up –– the veg ‘trivet’ will help the air circulate, cooking the meat evenly, and will also help make some delicious gravy.

Drizzle the garlic oil over the chicken skin and then sprinkle over the herbs, a little black pepper and the salt, if using. The salt is definitely not needed, but there is nothing better than crispy, salty chicken skin in my book. If you’re serving this to little ones, you can remove the skin from their portion before plating up.

Crumble the stock cube into a jug and add 200ml (7fl oz) of boiling water. Stir to dissolve the stock cube, then pour it into the tray, ensuring you don’t make the chicken skin wet. Add more boiling water from the kettle until liquid covers all of the veg.

Place the tray in the centre of the preheated oven. Make sure nothing is cooking on the shelf above the chicken, although having items cooking underneath is okay. Calculate the cooking time, allowing 40 minutes per kg, plus another 20 minutes. Use a large spoon to baste the chicken once or twice while cooking, and if all the juices dry up, add more hot water from the kettle down the side of the tin. Once cooked, the skin should be very golden and crispy. To check it is cooked through, make a small cut into the deepest part of the breast – if the meat is stringy and white throughout, it is done.

Remove the tin from the oven and carefully transfer the chicken to a warm dish to rest for 20–30 minutes. If you’re worried it will get cold, you can cover the dish with foil and then a tea towel too, however, do note the skin won’t be as crispy if you do this.

Now you can make the gravy. Set a large sieve over a medium-sized saucepan and pour the entire contents of the roasting tin into the pan, allowing the sieve to catch all of the veg.

If the pan has lots of crispy bits stuck to the base, this is all flavour and we don’t want to get rid of it. Pour the chicken stock into the roasting tin and place it on the hob over a medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the crispy bits from the tin into the stock, then pass the stock through the sieve into the gravy saucepan. Alternatively, add the stock directly to the cooking juices in the saucepan. Finally, add the Worcestershire sauce, if using, and soy sauce.

Set the pan over a medium heat and allow it to come up to a boil. Meanwhile, put the cornflour and 2 tablespoons of cold water into a small bowl and stir until the flour has dissolved. Once the gravy is boiling, with a spoon in one hand stirring well, quickly pour the cornflour paste into the centre of the pan and keep stirring for a minute. It should start to thicken instantly. Turn the heat down and allow the gravy to simmer away for 10 minutes to reduce a little and let the flavour intensify. If you’re serving to older children and adults, add a pinch of salt here, too. And if you prefer a very thick gravy, make up a little more cornflour paste and add this to the pan, cooking for a few more minutes to take away the flour taste.

Serve your chicken and gravy with simple boiled potatoes, or go the full hog and serve with all the trimmings from pages 158–61.

Love your leftovers

Leftover chicken and gravy will keep for 2 days in the fridge. Reheat the chicken in the oven – with a splash of gravy over the top and covered with foil to stop it drying out – at 180ºC fan (200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6) for 10–15 minutes until piping hot throughout. The gravy can be reheated in a saucepan for 5 minutes until bubbling.

Waste not If you have plenty of leftover roast chicken, head to page 138 to use it up in a delicious chicken lasagne. Or stuff in a quesadilla, use it to top a pizza, or cook into pasta dishes. And adding cold chicken gravy to a leftover-chicken sandwich is cracking!


Credit: Follow Rebecca Wilson on Instagram at @RebeccaWilsonFood or find more recipes online at www.rebeccawilson.com

Book Credit: Family Comforts by Rebecca Wilson. Published by DK, out now. (£18.99) dk.com 

Photographer Credit: Photography by Andrew Burton

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