What’s cooking today: Roast chicken with sage, lemon and garlic

What’s cooking today: Roast chicken with sage, lemon and garlic
Tony Jackman’s sage, lemon and garlic roast chicken. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Sage and onion are one of the best known combinations for flavouring a roast chicken. But there are other ways, and in this instance, instead of onion, the sage is partnered with lemon and garlic. Oh, and butter, lots of butter.

This was a Big Bird, all of 2.5 kg. It’s rare that I find a fowl so big in South African stores, and given the dire predictions about the supply of chickens I decided to take advantage and make a meal of it with the knowledge that there would definitely be leftovers with which to make a second supper in a day or two. Never underestimate the power of cooking too much, as long as you do then actually use what’s left over in another dish, and soon. (And keep checking our daily recipes for that leftovers recipe, coming soon.)

Essentially, what I did is make a compound butter of (well, butter obviously), chopped sage, lemon zest, and finely chopped garlic. This was inserted under the breast skin as well as being spread on top of the bird, all over. Other than that, the chicken is simply seasoned (including in the cavity) and roasted. Oh, and I cut up the lemon that I had zested and shoved it in the cavity.

(Serves 4, or 2 with plenty of leftovers)


1 large whole chicken

Zest of 1 lemon, and the lemon, quartered

A handful of sage leaves, chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, chopped finely

Lots of butter, at least ⅓ of a cup

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 220℃.

Rinse the bird and pat it dry.

Season the cavity with salt and black pepper.

Mix the butter with the chopped garlic, lemon zest and chopped sage. Insert it under the breast skin (using your fingers) and spread it all over the exterior of the skin.

Place the lemon quarters in the cavity.

Roast at 220℃ for 15 minutes, then at 180℃ for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Rest for 10 minutes. DM

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

This dish is photographed on a blue platter by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.


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