How To Roast A Chicken - Plus A Recipe For A Baked Leek And Mustard Mash - The Gloss Magazine

How To Roast A Chicken – Plus A Recipe For A Baked Leek And Mustard Mash

Cook, food writer and food and prop stylist Kitty Coles shares recipes from her new cookbook, for the perfect roast chicken and an elevated baked leek and mustard mash that will be the ultimate crowdpleaser…


One thing I always say about my job as a food stylist and writer is that I have roasted chicken in a lot of ways. Every chef and cook has their own method, which they swear by. I’ve roasted them upside down, I’ve slow-roasted them, I’ve marinated them in buttermilk, I’ve salted them overnight, I’ve salted them just before cooking, I’ve buttered them and I’ve oiled them. And to be honest, they’ve been delicious every time, because everyone who knows me knows I love roast chicken in any form. This is all to say that I am by no means the first (or will be the last) to write about roasting chicken, but it’s something that feels so personal and deeply ingrained in my family culture that I can’t not write a small essay about it.

My parents owned a restaurant for 20 years, from when I was five
until I was about 25. They closed the restaurant every Sunday, without fail, so we could all get together and have a roast chicken (there were probably many other reasons to close, such as getting some sleep, but let’s pretend it was just about the chicken, for the romance of it). It was one of the first things I learnt to cook, and Sundays feel strange when there isn’t a chicken in the oven.

The main thing for me is the endless opportunities roasting a chicken provides. While I love the freshly roasted bird, I might love the things that come after it even more. A roast chicken represents one of the oldest ways of sustainable eating. The beauty and pure deliciousness of a great stock, for example, is just amazing. My dad is almost never not making a pot of stock. If he sees any scrap of bone, prawn shell or vegetable peel, there will be a stock bubbling that afternoon. When we go to a restaurant, he’ll come home with bags of bones from the dinner, suckling pig and langoustine shells being the favourite. It causes a real problem with freezer space in the house. I can hear my mum now: ‘Please, no more stock!’

Well, now it’s my time to implore you: please, please keep the carcass from this roast chicken to make stock (page 93), which will give you the best meals for a whole week.

Serves 4
1.5–2 kg (3 lb 5 oz–4 lb 8 oz) good-quality chicken
1 tablespoon fine salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Small handful of thyme sprigs
1 lemon, halved
2–4 garlic cloves, unpeeled and lightly crushed
For the gravy (optional)
125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) white wine
100 ml (31/2 fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) water
1 x 400 g (7 oz) tin of lentils or white beans (optional)
20 g (3/4 oz) butter
Small handful of parsley, leaves chopped

1. Cut off the string that’s wrapped around the chicken legs, then lightly salt the chicken all over, seasoning from a height and turning the chicken to ensure an even, complete coverage. This ensures a moist, well-seasoned chicken. The salt will draw out the moisture from the skin as well as seasoning it, giving you the crispiest skin possible. At this point, you can refrigerate the chicken for 1 hour or overnight to get the best results but I never have the time or patience, so I set it aside for 30–40 minutes to bring it to room temperature.
2. Preheat the oven to as hot as it will go, about 240°C fan (500°F). Place the chicken in a roasting tin (I use something that can be put on the hob afterwards to make gravy).
3. Pour the oil over the chicken and massage it all over with your hands. The oil gives the chicken a little kickstart in the oven, so make sure you get it into every nook and cranny to achieve maximum crispness.
4. Put the thyme, lemon and garlic into the chicken cavity, then roast in the oven, legs at the back, for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180°C fan (400°F), rotate the chicken and roast for another 10–20 minutes until golden and crisp and the juices from the leg run clear. (You’re aiming for 70°C/158°F at the base of the breast, if you have a meat thermometer.)
5. Now, this is the important part – when you remove the chicken from the oven, let it rest for at least 20–30 minutes. This allows the meat juices to be reabsorbed and will give you a moist and delicious chicken. I like to lift the chicken up using tongs and tilt it to allow the juices from the cavity to drip into the pan. Once rested, transfer to a chopping board.
6. To make a delicious gravy or side dish, place the pan over a medium heat and bubble the resting juices with the wine and water for 10 minutes. At this point, you can also add the lentils or beans with their juices. Just before the end, stir in the butter and parsley until glossy.
7. To carve the chicken, position it with the legs facing you. Slice three-quarters of the way down between the leg and breast, releasing the skin but not going through the bone. Then, with your hands, simply grab one leg at a time and gently snap them off. They should naturally break off at the socket. Transfer to a warmed plate or platter.
8. Next, feel for the centre bone of the chicken and, using a sharp knife, slice down slightly to the left of the bone and slowly cut down while pulling away with your hands so that you’re able to neatly cut the breast meat away from the bone. Turn the chicken around, then repeat with the other breast.
9. Slice the breasts however you wish, then add to the platter. You’ll now be left with the wings. Simply pull the wings away from the carcass, which will show you where the break in the bone is, then slice down the middle to easily release the wings.
10. Pour over the gravy, if you made it, and serve.


A friend of mine, the photographer Issy Croker, makes this at Christmas time, and it’s so impressive when she puts the hot, steaming, crunchy-topped mash on the table. It’s a crowd pleaser! If you don’t have leeks, I’d recommend using a bunch of spring onions (scallions) instead – they’ll also cook quicker, so it’s a handy swap if you don’t have much time. Side note: this is also very delicious made with mash that you can find in the ready meals section of the supermarket. Just add this to the pan with the leeks and milk and you’re ready to go! You can use any leftover boiled potatoes you have and adjust as necessary.

For 4
• 1kg (2 lb 4 oz) floury potatoes, such as Maris Pipers or King Edwards, peeled and chopped into 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) chunks
• 50g (1 3/4 oz) butter
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 4 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced into 1cm (1/2 inch) rounds
• 5 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
• 140ml (4 3/4 fl oz/scant 2/3 cup) milk
• 150g (5 1/2 oz) Cheddar, Parmesan or Gruyère, grated
• 2 tbsps Dijon mustard
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Boil the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water for 20 minutes until soft, then drain and leave to steam in the colander while you cook the leeks.
2. Place the empty pan back over a medium heat and melt the butter, then add the garlic and fry for 1 minute until fragrant.
3. Add the leeks, thyme leaves and a pinch of salt. Stir, then cover with a lid and cook for 20–25 minutes until really soft, adding a splash of water if the leeks start to caramelise.
4. Add the milk and allow to warm through, then remove from the heat.
5. Mash the potatoes until smooth. (For really smooth mash, push the potatoes through a sieve with a wooden spoon.)
6. Add the potatoes to the milk and leek mixture, along with half the cheese, the mustard, a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Stir until smooth. At this point, you can enjoy it as it is or take it one step further, which I really recommend.
7. Heat the oven to 200°C fan (425°F).
8. Spoon the mash into a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inches) deep baking dish (don’t use anything too big, as you’re looking for a crunchy top and lots of light, fluffy mash underneath). Level it out, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
9. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes until crisp and golden. I recommend you leave this to cool slightly for 10 minutes before serving as the inside will be very hot!
10. Any leftovers can be used to make potato cakes.

These recipes are from Make More With Less: Foolproof Recipes To Make Your Food Go Further, by Kitty Coles, published by Hardie Grant.


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