Italian herb-roasted chicken with watercress salsa verde

Preparation: 40 minutes    Cooking: 1hr 45mins    Serves: 4


  • 1 x 1.5kg whole chicken

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tbsp chopped thyme

  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary

  • 1 tbsp chopped oregano

  • 2 bulbs garlic, separated into cloves (unpeeled)

  • 150g watercress

  • 75g sun-blushed tomatoes

  • 75g black pitted olives

  • 1 large glass dry white wine

  • Salt and pepper

For the salsa verde:

  • 1 bunch flat parsley, finely chopped

  • 1 bunch basil, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp capers

  • 6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • 8-10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tsp mustard

  • Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 220°C. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil, then season inside and out with salt and pepper at place in an oven tray, breast side up. Rub the chopped herbs over the chicken and scatter the garlic cloves in the baking tray. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Turn the heat down to 180°C. Gently pour ½ of the wine over the chicken, being careful not to disturb the herb crust. Place back into the oven and roast for a further 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C. Pour the remaining wine over the chicken and roast for a further hour, or until cooked through. To check the bird is fully cooked, insert a knife into the inner thigh and make sure the flesh is cooked right through to the bone. Alternatively, use a meat thermometer. The inner thigh temperature should register 70°C.

While the chicken rests, make the salsa verde. Mix together the parsley, basil, anchovies and capers. Then add the olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Add the lemon juice, mustard and salt and pepper, tasting as you go. Adjust seasoning to taste. Alternatively this sauce can be made by whizzing everything in a food processor, although the hand-chopped rustic version is preferred by some!

Finally, construct the salad. Tip the roasting juices out of the chicken and pour into a bowl. Peel the roasted garlic cloves and add to the bowl along with the tomatoes and olives. Add the watercress and mix well, then divide salad between four plates.

Carve the chicken and serve with the salsa verde on the side.

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