The Cottage Smallholder

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Sunday roast: Chic St Clement’s roast chicken recipe

Photo: lemons in a green dish

Photo: lemons in a green dish

I think that a really good roast chicken with all the trimmings is my favourite Sunday roast. Last weekend I decided to firm up the idea that we had for St Clement’s chicken – stuffing the bird with oranges and lemons. It was delicious. Delicate, fragrant, summery and so easy. And it tasted wonderful – as if we had slaved for hours.

The secret ingredient is adding the half teaspoon of chopped preserved lemons – these are essential. The recipe below is for a small chicken (1 kilo) so we only needed one orange and one lemon to pack the cavity. If you are roasting a bigger bird just add more orange and lemon segments but I would be wary of adding more preserved lemons as they are very strong and could overpower the dish.

A one kilo bird feeds two of us for two generous meals and a stack of chicken sandwiches for lunch (two days). The leftover chicken (and gravy) makes a great stir fry with sweet red peppers and saffron. I’ll post the recipe for this in the next couple of days. If you jettison the sandwiches there would be enough leftover chicken for a tasty risotto as well.

We ate this with a present of baby asparagus, carrots and sweet Jersey Royal potatoes – that I found in Waitrose knocked down from £2.49 to 29p. Carrots are good with a roast as the carrot water is perfect for adding to the juices at the base of the pan and making superb gravy.

We also made bread sauce (Danny is now addicted to this delicacy that he only discovered when he came to England 11 years ago). We used our own home cured bacon to cover the breast of the bird. Unless you  have access to traditionally cured bacon don’t buy commercially produced smoked streaky bacon as this imparts a nasty chemical taste to the chicken  – the unsmoked medium cut commercially produced streaky would be fine for this dish.

St Clement’s chicken: chicken roasted with oranges and lemons recipe (for 4)

  • 1 small chicken (1 kilo)
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 mediuml orange (I used a Navel)
  • 3 tbsp of good quality Balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of water (or dry white wine if you have some to hand)
  • 4-6 slices of medium sliced free range organic streaky bacon
  • 1 tsp of finely chopped preserved lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A large piece of aluminium foil


  1. Arrange the chicken on a large piece of double foil – enough to cover the bird loosely and completely.
  2. Cut the orange and lemon into quarters. Using your hands squeeze the juice liberally over the bird. Stuff the chicken cavity with the orange and lemon skins – placing the chopped preserved lemons in the centre of the cavity.
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar and water beneath the bird. Season with freshly ground black pepper and layer the breast with streaky bacon .
  4. Crimp the foil carefully around the bird, making sure every opening is sealed very tight.
  5. Roast the chicken for one hour at 210c (190c fan). Then open up the foil, remove the bacon to a dish at the bottom of the oven to crisp and cut the thighs so that they open away from the bird. Roast the chicken for a further half hour until golden brown. To make the gravy, add 250ml of carrot water to the juices from the foil, simmer this to reduce by half. Remember to keep any leftover gravy for the stir fry!

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mary

    I’m so pleased with this recipe it tasted wonderful.

    Hello Joanna

    Preerved lemons are a middle Eastern delight. We buy them in jars from the supermarket – they seem to keep for ages in the fridge. You can also make them – I’ve never tried this but there must be recipes on Google.

    Yes we usually simmer the chicken bones on the slow cooker to make soup. Yummy.

    Hello Chris

    I love making soup and could eat it everyday for lunch.

    Hi Michelle in NZ

    This is well worth trying as it’s so easy and tasty. I think even Zebbycat would approve!

    Hi S.o.L.

    They have terracotta chimneas on sale in Newmarket High Street atm.

    We used to slice it by hand which was a difficult and tedious task. Then a wonderful couple gave us an electric slicer from Argos (Cookworks range). If you chill the bacon in the fridge for 24 hours it slices like a dream.

    Hello Bridget

    The oranges take the edge of the lemon flavour.

    Danny used a couple of tablespoons of elderflower cordial under the chicken last Sunday and it was superb.

    Hi Paul

    Delighted that you tried the recipe and liked it.

    Thank you so much for taking thee time to give some feedback.

  2. Tried this last night and was indeed delicious. The chicken gets steamed in its own juices as well as by the citrus and the meat was incredibly tender and subtley flavoured. We may well try the stir fry this evening!

  3. Bridget

    That sounds very good, hadn’t thought of trying balsamic vinegar in a roast. I usually put a lemon in the cavity when I slow cook our own birds prior to roasting and this does give a lovely citrus flavour, although sometimes it can be a wee bit overpowering. I’ve not tried using preserved lemons as yet but intend to once our trees start producing and we have too many to use fresh!

  4. S.o.L

    hhhmmmmmmm yuuuuummmmmm

    You know I really think that I have to eat before I read your posts! I am now hungry!

    Talking about your bacon. Please advise how you slice it. Do you do this just with a knife or do you have a slicer?

    I am watching all the local DIY shops and garden centres for a chimnea! I will have one. OH yes I will!

  5. Michelle in NZ

    Wow, what a wonderful recipe. Am out of preserved lemon but it is easy enough to make, and citrus is in season here right now.

    The stock I could make from the left over bones, ignoble bits and skin would be so delicious…..

    Thanks for more wonderful food inspiration.

    Care and huggles to you and all once more (yes, of course another smuggled extra cuddle or 6 for Dr Q)

    Michelle and Zebbycat

  6. chris

    We always slow cook the bones and make a chicken vegetable soup. Yum

  7. Joanna

    I have never heard of preserved lemon, what is it? Do you not boil up the bones to make a tasty stock for a nice hearty soup? That would then be another meal out of the chicken.

  8. Oh my goodness. My mouth’s watering already.

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