Need something “festive-but-not-turkey”


Cinderella may not be pulling up in a carriage at either celebration this year, but don’t let that stop you having a ball. Plans for Christmas have gone topsy turvy like everything else these days. So what does one do for a re-think when everything becomes last minute and the family have been forced, like the turkey, to flee the coop? The big bird will no longer be relevant and if already ordered can be jointed thoughtfully and put in the freezer for other uses.Its amazing how many delicious recipes there are for turkey without the faff of the roast; meatballs, burgers, curries. So on a more frugal note if we are to be dining alone, a deux, or with a maximum of four, a chicken will fit the bill perfectly, be a lot kinder to the purse and, if planned wisely, can produce more than one meal and using leftovers will mean zero waste.
A chicken brought proudly to the table in its dish always feels like a celebration to me. Juicy aromatic roast chicken flavoured with orange, sage, garlic and thyme makes this easy Christmas chicken recipe the perfect no-fuss centerpiece, and with some fondant potatoes and spicy roasted Hokkaido pumpkin dinner is complete.

The buttery, fragrant pan sauce that forms while the chicken is roasting is the perfect replacement for gravy.
No waste Sage Orange Christmas Chicken
Roasted Spiced Hokaido pumpkin
Fondant potatoes

  • Shopping list
  • Chicken. Using a free range/organic chicken makes a huge difference.
  • 2 Fresh oranges. 
  • Sage. 
  • Thyme. 
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 1 red onion.
  • 1 small lemon.
  • 1 small orange
  • Softened butter. 
  • Olive oil. 
  • White wine. 
  • Salt & pepper.

How to make this Christmas chicken
Make the compound butter: A compound butter is butter infused with aromatics. In this case,citrus zest is used, fresh herbs and garlic. Place softened butter in a bowl then add the zest of an orange and a lemon, crushed garlic, finely chopped fresh sage and thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

Season the chicken: Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before cooking. Gently loosen the skin over the breast and drumsticks with your fingers, taking care not to tear the skin. Spoon the butter under the skin and gently spread over the meat until the butter has been distributed over the chicken. In a roasting dish, add orange halves, quartered onion, halved garlic bulbs, thyme and sage. Place the chicken on top then drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Pour wine around the chicken then place in the oven. 

Roast the chicken: Allow the chicken to roast for 45-60 minutes, depending on size, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Getting ahead of the game
The chicken can be seasoned and place in the roasting dish then covered with foil and refrigerated for up to a day in advance. Remove from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking. The cooked chicken can be covered tightly with foil then covered with two tea towels and kept warm for at least an hour. This frees up oven space if you need to cook any other dishes for your meal. Leftover chicken can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

1.5 kg / 3lb whole chicken
½ cup softened butter
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves finely minced/crushed
1 tbsp sage finely chopped
2 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 oranges halved
1 onion quartered
2 garlic bulbs halved
10 sprigs fresh thyme
6 sage leaves
1 cup white wine

Place softened butter in a bowl then add the zest of an orange and a lemon, crushed garlic, finely chopped fresh sage and thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before cooking.
Gently loosen the skin over the breast and drumsticks with your fingers, taking care not to tear the skin.
Spoon the butter under the skin and gently spread over the meat until the butter has been distributed over the chicken.
In a roasting dish, add orange halves, quartered onion, halved garlic bulbs, thyme and sage.
Place the chicken on top then drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Pour wine around the chicken then place in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Allow the chicken to roast for 45-60 minutes, depending on size, until golden brown and cooked through.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Spicy Roasted Hokkaido Pumpkin
The skin is edible which makes preparation a cinch for this hokkaido pumpkin recipe

1 small Hokkaido pumpkin about 2lbs / 1kg
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp honey for drizzling


Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice the pumpkin in half and use a spoon to scoop the seeds out. Using a sharp knife, slice into wedges about one-inch thick.
Place the pumpkin wedges into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to combine well.
Add the spices, and toss to coat. Use your hands to work the spices into the pumpkin wedges.
Arrange the pumpkin slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Roast the pumpkin for about 20 minutes, until golden on the outside and tender on the inside.
Transfer to a serving plate, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with micro greens if desired.

Fondant Potatoes

150g/5oz butter
4 potatoes, peeled, cut into barrel-shapes using a cookie cutter
75ml/3fl oz chicken or vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed lightly with the edge of a knife
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the butter over a medium heat in a saucepan. When the butter is foaming, add the potatoes and fry until deep golden-brown on one side, about 5-6 minutes. (Do not move the potatoes as they cook.)
Turn over the potatoes and cook for a further 5-6 minutes, or until golden-brown on both sides.
Carefully pour in the stock, then add the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs. (CAUTION: the hot fat will splutter when it comes into contact with the stock.) Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat until the stock is simmering. Simmer the potatoes until tender, then remove the potatoes from the pan using a slotted spoon and keep warm.

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