Whole roast chicken with herbs and spices, roasted with an aromatic bacon and nut stuffing, served with a sauce made with pan drippings. This is the perfect showstopper for your festive table!
This whole roast chicken recipe has been the centerpiece of our Christmas table for a few years now. The chicken is stuffed with the most incredible bacon-nut stuffing, one that is spiced and seasoned to perfection. The juices of the chicken cook through the stuffing and the flavors of the stuffing intensify as it cooks in the juices of the meat.
I can’t stress enough how flavourful this chicken roast is, and all the superlatives I will be using in this recipe post are completely justified – make this chicken roast with herbs and spices and believe you me!
This herb-baked chicken is also perfect for Thanksgiving.
Why this recipe works
What’s the formula for the perfect roast chicken, you ask? This is it:
Overnight brining + flavor-packed stuffing + sinful sauce made from the pan drippings
That combination right here is what makes this different from any other roast chicken recipe –the brining renders the meat tender and juicy, the stuffing is cooked through in the juices of the chicken, and the sauce smacks of flavor from the pan drippings.
Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken, get your fork and grab some of that, along with the stuffing, and some roasted potatoes – this is pretty much how you construct the perfect spoonful/forkful!
(please read the recipe card at the end of this post for detailed ingredient measurements)
You will need the following ingredients to make this roast chicken recipe:
1 whole chicken - I used a 3 lb or 1.5 kg chicken with skin on. Preferably, use free-range chicken.
For the brine
- Sea Salt
For the stuffing
- Fruit and nuts: I use a mixture of raisins, pecans (or walnuts), and cashews
- day-old sliced white bread
- Pro Tip: Use Ghee (instead of butter) and Garam masala to make the stuffing - these are unconventional ingredients, but are so good for added flavor!
To prep the chicken
- Ghee or Butter
- Fresh rosemary and sage
For the sauce
- Balsamic vinegar
- Brown sugar
- Chicken broth
Step by Step Instructions
1. Brine the chicken overnight
The night before you roast the chicken, prepare a brine solution and keep the chicken refrigerated overnight (or at least for 8 hours) in the brine solution.
To make the brine, combine the water, salt, and sugar in a large vessel. Stir together until the sugar and salt dissolve. Place the chicken in the solution and keep it covered in the fridge for at least 8 hours, best overnight.
After 8 hours, take out the chicken and let it dry out in the fridge, keeping it on a shallow plate or pan.
2. Prepare the stuffing
The right kind of stuffing makes all the difference to the roast chicken. I use a combination of bacon, raisins and nuts, bread and celery, sautéed in ghee and garam masala for the stuffing. Be prepared for the aroma of all this good stuff wafting through your house! You’d be tempted to stop right there and have it on its own.
Sauté the bacon first, until just done. Keep aside. In the same pan, sauté the celery, garlic, nuts, and raisins, along with the garam masala, in a little ghee. Add to the bacon. Finally, add the bread and lightly sauté.
Mix all the ingredients - bacon, raisins, nuts, bread together and keep aside.
3. Preparing the chicken for roasting
To prepare the chicken for roasting, we will first season under the skin, with a mixture of softened butter mixed with chopped fresh rosemary and sage.
Take the brined, dried chicken out of the fridge, pat it dry with kitchen paper and very gently, using your fingers, separate out the skin from the meat below it. Starting from the cavity end of the chicken, separate out the skin on the breast and the thighs.
Then, using your fingers, slide the softened herbed butter under the skin, over the breast and thigh meat. Once you’re done with seasoning under the skin, stuff the chicken cavity with the prepared stuffing and truss up the legs, closing the cavity.
Finally, using a pastry brush, brush ghee over the skin all over the chicken and roast it on a rack, placed on a roasting tin.
4. Roasting the chicken:
For this recipe, I used a 1.5 kg chicken, which usually takes 1-hour 20 minutes of uninterrupted oven time to roast at 190 C or 375 F. However, I recommend you brush ghee over the chicken once every 30 minutes, and in doing so, the oven does lose some heat when you open the door.
To younger this, I prefer to roast the chicken for a total of 1 hour 40 minutes, which includes the time taken to brush the chicken with ghee.
5. Making the sauce:
The icing on the cake (make that the sauce to the roast chicken), really, is the sauce that is made with the pan drippings – reduced and cooked with balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, this sauce is incredibly flavourful.
Make the sauce while the chicken is resting. Take the roasting pan which has all the drippings from the roast. Skim off the fat from the pan (this is an optional step) using a spoon.
Place the pan on the stovetop, turn up the heat to medium and add the water or broth, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula and slowly add the corn starch. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens a little. Use the spoon or spatula to scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Sieve the sauce and serve it alongside the chicken and stuffing.
The idea of brining is simple enough - The process of soaking the meat in chilled salted water causes the chicken to absorb some of the water through the process of osmosis. The end result is juicier and more flavorful meat.
There are several recipes for the brine that use lemons, bay leaves, stock, etc. I’ve tried a few, and I’ve come to prefer a simple brine recipe: 1/3 cup sea salt, 3 liters of water, ¼ cup sugar. Just mix together the salt and sugar in the water, until dissolved. Clean out the chicken, especially the cavity, and place the chicken in the brine solution for 8 hours, best overnight. The chicken should be submerged.
The next day, before you get ready to prep the chicken for roasting it, dry it out in the fridge for 2 hours. Pat dry before you proceed with the next steps.
Basting the chicken in the pan drippings is an optional step, meant to keep the chicken moist and tender and add flavor back to the meat. You can skip this step, however, do try and brush the chicken with some ghee every 30 minutes or so, to enhance that beautiful golden-brown skin color.
More holiday recipes for you
Roast Chicken with Herbs and Spices
- For the brine:
- 3 litres water
- 1/3 cup salt use sea salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- For the stuffing:
- 5-6 strips of bacon
- 3 cloves garlic diced
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup pecans
- ¼ cup cashews
- ½ cup white bread ideally, 1 or 2 days old, diced
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- For prepping the chicken:
- 1 whole chicken with skin on (for this recipe, I used a 5 oz/3 lb/ 1.5 kg chicken)
- 30 grams butter softened
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary and sage preferably use fresh herbs
- 1 tablespoon ghee plus more to brush over the chicken.
- For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ cup water or chicken broth
- The night before you roast the chicken, prepare a brine and keep the chicken overnight in the brine solution.
For the brine:
- Combine the water, salt and sugar in a large vessel. Stir together until the sugar and salt dissolve. Place the chicken in the solution and keep it covered in the fridge for at least 8 hours, best overnight.
- After 8 hours, take out the chicken and let it dry out in the fridge, on a shallow plate or pan.
For the Stuffing:
- In a saucepan, sauté the bacon, until just cooked. Keep aside.
- In the same pan, add a teaspoon ghee. Sauté the celery, garlic, nuts and raisins with garam masala until fragrant, around 2 minutes. Add this to the bacon.
- Finally, add the bread and lightly sauté for a couple of minutes, until lightly browned.
- Add the bread to the rest of the ingredients, mix and keep aside.
To assemble the chicken and roast:
- Pre heat the oven to 190 C or 375 F.
- Mix together the softened butter with the chopped herbs. Keep this aside.
- Pat dry the chicken with a paper towel.
- Gently, using your fingers, separate out the skin from the meat below it. Starting from the cavity end of the chicken, separate out the skin on the breast and the thighs.
- Slide the softened herbed butter under the skin of the chicken, gently.
- Stuff the chicken cavity with the prepared stuffing and truss the chicken legs with kitchen twine.
- Brush some ghee (or butter) over the chicken, making sure you go over the entire chicken.
- Transfer the chicken to a roasting pan and place it on a rack centred in the middle of the oven.
- Roast at 190 C for 1 hour 40 minutes, brushing more ghee on the skin 3 times during the baking time.
- Once cooked, transfer the chicken onto a platter and let it rest outside the oven for 15-20 minutes before serving.
To prepare the sauce:
- While the chicken is resting, take the roasting pan which has all the drippings from the roast.
- Skim off the fat from the pan (this is an optional step) using a spoon.
- Place the pan on the stovetop, turn up the heat to medium and add the water or broth, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and salt.
- Stir with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula and slowly add the corn starch. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens a little. Use the spoon or spatula to scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Run the sauce through a sieve and serve alongside the chicken.