A Whole Chicken

a whole chicken

We wanted to create a back to basics series, for those that want to learn or develop their cooking skills. We believe that cooking is a life skill. Knowing how to nail the basics is seriously useful in the kitchen. We are working on the idea that ‘you don’t know, what you don’t know’. Where better to start then a whole chicken and homemade chicken stock!

There is something about the smell of a chicken roasting, that draws me back to my childhood. Every Sunday my mum would make a delicious roast dinner. As kids we would fight over who had the extra trimmings. There is something so humble, yet tasty about a whole chicken.

How to cook a whole chicken

For a quick and simple roast chicken, heat your oven to 180oC. Rub the chicken with a pinch of salt, pepper, thyme and a drizzle of oil. If you have a whole lemon available, stuff it in the chicken cavity. Add the chicken to the oven, using the time stated on the packaging. If not stated, a whole chicken requires 55 minutes per kg + 20 minutes extra at 180oC. Half way through the cooking time, careful remove and spoon the juices over the chicken.

To check if the chicken is cooked through, piece the thigh with a sharp knife and if the juices run clear it is cooked. If not, return to the oven.

Once cooked, allow to rest for at least 15 minutes. Resting allows the chicken to absorb back into the meat.

Being English I naturally think about European winter flavours. But as I have explored different cuisines and flavours, I have got more excited about how versatile a whole chicken can be! There are so many possibilities from one chicken.

Now days a whole chicken creates my favourite quick mid week meals. I love to cook a chicken on a Sunday or Monday and feel like I have paid myself forward. Having cook chicken and stock in the fridge can create such a variety of meals. For our family, one chicken makes three meals, 2 using the meat and 1 using the stock. This is my idea of great fast food: homemade, quick and wholesome but also super economical.

How to make homemade chicken stock

You cant beat homemade chicken stock for adding a tasty base to your dish! Below I have added a traditional chicken stock recipe, but don’t over think what you put in the stock. As a student I would want to make a stock but think I didn’t have all the ‘correct’ ingredients. Now days I can’t throw the bones away. Just add whatever veg or herbs you have available, using up any left overs or scraps. A great idea for this is to have a bag in the freezer, ready to throw your veg scraps and peelings in, then use this when making stock.

Remember to think about what herbs you are adding to your stock and what you intend to make with it. If we are planning to use the stock for an asian dish for example, we would leave the herbs out, as they would clash with the flavours you would be adding to the final dish. Keeping it basic at that stage means I can add layers of flavour later.

It’s so simple to make your own stock and is the base for so many tasty dishes. Its absolutely worth getting into the habit of throw the bones into a pot and letting them simmer away!

Here are some of our current favourite chicken and stock recipes:

Happy tasting and if you have ideas you would like to see in this back to basics series, let us know!

Traditional Chicken Stock

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Keyword: Chicken Stock
Servings: 2 Litres
Author: Sara-Jane Bowness


  • 1 Chicken carcasass or around 1 kg legs/wings chopped
  • 2 Garlic
  • 2 sticks Celery
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1 large Carrots
  • 1 Bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Rosemary (Dried)
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme (Dried)
  • 3 litres Cold water


  • Roughly chop all the vegetables, leaving skin on. Bash the garlic.
  • Place all the ingrediants into a large deep bottomed pan.
  • Add the cold water and bring to the boil then simmer gently for 2-3 hours, skim as neccessary.
  • Once finshed take of the heat and pass through a sieve. Allow to cool.
  • Divide into small air tight containers. Store in the fridge for up to4 days and in the freezer for 2-3 months.


  • For the vegetables and herbs, use what you have available.  Don’t worry if you have an item missing just leave it out or replace with what you have.  You can collect peelings and food scraps through out the week, store in a bag in the freezer, ready to add to your stock.
  • If you are wanting to use the stock to make an asian dish leave the herbs out at this stage, to avoid them clashing with the flavour you add to your dish.

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