What’s cooking today: Lime & chilli roast chicken

What’s cooking today: Lime & chilli roast chicken
Tony Jackman’s hand-reared chicken roasted with limes and chilli, served on a lemon Mervyn Gers platter. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

There’s zing and bite in this recipe for a hand raised chicken, worth roasting for the table this weekend along with the recipes published so far this week, which are linked in the story.

I bought chickens the other day from the friend of a friend who hand raises chickens from egg to market. These are plump birds that have lived a life of exercise rather than the misery that is a battery hen’s existence. But it does mean solid meat and that potentially needs more time in the oven to become succulent and tender.

After three or four times of roasting these chickens I feel that with this recipe I have the formula right: that they need a good hour and three quarters of cooking at a lower temperature than I would normally roast a chicken, and in two stages: a full hour uncovered, then covered with foil for a further 45 minutes. In addition, I packed the cavity with masses of flavour: fresh coriander sprigs, quartered limes, garlic cloves and chillies. The result was pure joy.

During the forthcoming weekend, whether you observe Easter or are just enjoying the long weekend break, gather the clan or friends around for a dinner with this chicken as a centrepiece (or two of them if there’s a crowd). Start with asparagus spears with rosemary-infused Parmesan butter cream, and have the honey spiced pumpkin as a side dish. My cumin seed potatoes would make a good accompaniment to the chicken as well. For a decadent dessert, go retro with my Pears Belle Hélène.


1 x 2 kg chicken, wing tips removed

4 limes, halved, plus an extra one for serving

6 garlic cloves, peeled but kept whole

1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped

1 bird’s-eye chilli, deseeded and chopped

1 tsp galangal powder

1 tsp white pepper


Small handful coriander sprigs, whole

2 Tbsp coriander including stalks, chopped finely

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp Sherry vinegar

2 Tbsp dark muscovado sugar

1 Tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp dried crushed garlic

2 Tbsp flavourless cooking oil


Rinse and pat the chicken dry, inside and out.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Season inside the cavity with salt and white pepper.

Halve the limes and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Put the lime halves into the chicken cavity with the chopped coriander, garlic cloves and the chopped green chillies.

Add the Sherry vinegar, soy sauce and fish sauce to the bowl with the lime juice, and stir in the muscovado sugar, dried galangal, crushed garlic and chopped bird’s-eye chillies.

Pour the contents of the bowl into a small saucepan.

While the chicken is roasting, heat this while stirring for the sugar to dissolve. Reduce it at a simmer until it becomes a sticky glaze. Leave it to cool.

Brush the outside of the bird with oil and season with salt and white pepper.

Place it in a heavy roasting dish and roast for an hour.

Remove from the oven and brush half of the glaze over the chicken evenly.

Cover lightly with heavy foil and roast for another 45 minutes.

Turn off the oven, open the oven door and leave the chicken to rest for 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a board on a tray that is larger than the board (to catch the juices).

Spoon off any excess fat. Pour ½ a cup of water into the pan and put it on a moderate heat on the stove top. Scrape up the sticky bits at the bottom while it reduces. Add the contents of the saucepan to this and simmer until it thickens by reduction. Serve this sauce with the chicken, garnished with the remaining chopped coriander and fresh wedges of lime to squeeze over. DM/TGIFood

Contact Michael Rice on 082 262 1401 to find out when next he will have fresh chickens available. I wrote previously about his chicken venture here.

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing. 


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