Main Meals

Butter-basted roast chicken

30 minutes
1 hour
Wine/Spirit Pairing
De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2019

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  • 400 g celery, washed and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 T olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 30 g chives
  • 500 g butter, softened
  • 1 whole free-range chicken
  • 80 g shelled fresh peas
  • 140 g mangetout peas
  • 120 g sugar snap peas

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the celery and garlic on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, season and roast for 20–25 minutes until softened and slightly golden brown.

2. Place in the blender with the chives and blitz until smooth, but still with a slightly chunky texture. Stir into the softened butter until completely combined. Roll into cylinders, wrap in clingwrap and tie on both ends. Place in the freezer until solidified but do not freeze.

3. Remove the butter from the freezer. Run a spatula or other blunt object (your fingers will also do) under the skin of the chicken to create air pockets on top of the breasts. Slice the celery butter thickly and place discs of butter under the skin and inside the cavity. Truss the bird and roast for 40–45 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

4. Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer and quickly cook the peas, mangetout and sugar snaps until tender but still crunchy, about 4 minutes. Drain and toss a bit more of the celery-chive butter through the warm veggies. Place on a platter with the chicken and serve warm.

Cook's note: I have a bad habit of buying a sleeve of celery without checking whether I have any left at home, and I always end up with bucketloads to repurpose, which is how this recipe came to be. Celery is one of my favourite flavours and it gives this chicken a delicious briny, nutty, sweet quality. This recipe makes enough butter to freeze for later use – toss through boiled new potatoes or fresh pasta for a quick weeknight dinner.

Find more roast chicken recipes here. 

Photographs: Willow Tucker

Khanya Mzongwana

Recipe by: Khanya Mzongwana

If you're anything like our deputy food editor Khanya Mzongwana, you're obsessed with uniqueness and food with feeling. Cook her family-tested favourites, midweek winners and her mouth-wateringly fresh takes on plant-based eating.

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