When I was growing up, a roast chicken dinner was a real treat, and it is still one of my favourites for a Sunday lunch. Make sure to get a Bord Bia Quality Assured chicken. I have been using Noone’s poultry from the Inishowen Peninsula a lot lately. I love their roast chicken.

The combination of lemon and thyme here make for great flavours with chicken. Remember to keep spooning over the juices every 20 minutes or so. The sausage meat adds a nice richness to the stuffing. I have given you lots of potato options to experiment with, but my advice is keep it simple. It is hard to beat the humble spud and, for smooth, velvety potatoes, a potato ricer makes it very easy.

My sister Sharon loves this fruity bread and butter pudding. Again, the lemon gives great flavour. Instead of sultanas, you could use dried apricots. The prunes are optional. Ask Marty Whelan!

Happy cooking,


Fragrant roast chicken with sausage stuffing

Neven's fragrant roast chicken with lemon and thyme / Janine Kennedy.

Serves 4-6

  • 1.5kg (3lb) whole chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 75g (3oz) butter, softened
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 small carrots, peeled
  • 2 red onions, peeled and halved
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped in half
  • 1 leek, chopped in half
  • 1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves

    (but not peeled)

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 120ml (4fl oz) white wine
  • 300ml (½ pint) chicken stock
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Buttered peas, to serve
  • For the sausage stuffing:

    Neven's sausage stuffing roll / Janine Kennedy

  • 25g (1oz) butter, extra for greasing
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 100g (4oz) sausage meat
  • 100g (4oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
  • 1 Take the chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before it goes into the oven. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F/gas mark 8).

    2 Finely grate the rind from the lemon and place the rind in a bowl, reserving the lemon. Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks (reserve the stalks) and add to the lemon rind. Mix in the butter and the garlic and then season to taste.

    3 Loosen the skin from the chicken breasts, starting at the cavity end and working your hand underneath to release it. Spread the butter evenly under the skin and lay the skin back down on top. Slash the chicken legs several times with a sharp knife (this is to help ensure crispy skin).

    4 Place the carrots in a roasting tin with the red onions, celery, leek and garlic, tossing to coat in one tablespoon of olive oil. Sit the chicken on top of the pile of vegetables and drizzle all over with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, then season well, rubbing it all over and right into the slashes.

    5 Cut the reserved lemon in half and put it inside the chicken’s cavity with the reserved thyme stalks. Place the chicken in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Roast the chicken for 80 minutes, basting the chicken halfway through cooking.

    6 Meanwhile, to make the sausage stuffing roll, melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion until softened. Leave to cool, then mix with the sausage meat, breadcrumbs and herbs, and season with salt and pepper.

    7 Place on a heavily buttered double sheet of tin foil and roll up into a thick sausage shape about 2.5cm (1in) thick and 20cm (8in) long, twisting the ends to secure. Place in a roasting tin and cook above the chicken for 25–30 minutes, until the sausage meat is cooked through, turning it a couple of times to ensure it cooks evenly.

    8 When the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a board and put the carrots and red onions on a warmed plate. Cover each with tin foil and rest for 15 minutes while you make the gravy.

    9 Using a large spoon, carefully remove most of the fat from the tin and then place the tin directly on the heat. Stir in the flour and then, holding the tin steady, mash up the remaining vegetables as much as possible.

    10 Pour in the wine and allow it to bubble down, stirring continuously to blend the flour in. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until slightly reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally.

    11 Take a large jug and set a sieve into it. Then pour in the gravy mixture, using a ladle to push all of the liquid and some of the vegetables through with the back of the spoon. Stir in the juices from the resting chicken and season to taste. Transfer to a warmed gravy boat.

    12 To serve, carve the chicken into slices and arrange on warmed serving plates. Unwrap the sausage stuffing roll and cut into slices, then add to the plates with the roast potatoes and buttered peas. Hand around the gravy boat separately.

    Creamy Mashed Potatoes

    Neven's creamy mashed potatoes / Janine Kennedy.

    Serves 4-6

  • 1.5kg (3lb) floury potatoes (such as Roosters), cut into even-sized chunks
  • About 120ml (4fl oz) milk and/or cream
  • 100g (4oz) butter
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Place the potatoes in a large pan of salted water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender without breaking up. Drain and return to the pan over a low heat to dry out.

    2 Mash the potatoes, or pass them through a potato ricer if you want a really smooth finish. Heat the milk and/or cream in a small pan. Using a wooden spoon, beat 75g (3oz) of the butter into the potatoes until it’s melted and then beat in enough of the hot milk until you have achieved a smooth, creamy purée. Season to taste.

    3 To serve, melt the remaining 25g (1oz) butter in a small pan or in the microwave. Put the creamy mashed potatoes into a warmed serving dish and spoon over the melted butter. Season with pepper and sprinkle over the parsley. Use as required.


    Once mastered, this recipe can be adapted for different results. Try replacing a couple of tablespoons of the milk with crème fraîche or cream for a richer version. A couple of tablespoons of chives or a good dollop of Dijon mustard can also work well, depending on what you are serving with the mash.


    Blanch half a head of shredded cabbage in a pan of boiling, salted water for 2–3 minutes, then drain and quickly refresh. Add two finely chopped spring onions to the milk and/or cream while it’s heating. Fold the cabbage into the mashed potato mixture and then gently reheat to serve.


    Melt a good knob of butter in a frying pan and gently sauté a finely diced red pepper and small onion until softened, then beat into the mashed potato with 150g (5oz) finely chopped cooked ham and two tablespoons of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley.


    Heat four finely chopped spring onions with the milk and/or cream before beating into the mashed potatoes.

    Fruity Bread and Butter Pudding

    Neven's classic fruity bread and butter pudding / Janine Kennedy.

    Serves 4-6

  • 4 eggs
  • 300ml (½ pint) milk
  • 150ml (¼ pint) cream
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
  • 50g (2oz) caster sugar
  • 250g (9oz) sliced white bread (6 slices)
  • 75g (3oz) butter, softened, extra for greasing
  • 75g (3oz) ready-to-eat dried prunes, finely chopped
  • 75g (3oz) sultanas
  • Good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp marmalade
  • Icing sugar, to dust
  • Pouring cream, custard or vanilla ice cream, to serve
  • 1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).

    2 Lightly butter an ovenproof dish that’s about 25cm x 16cm (10in x 6in) and 2.5cm (1in) deep.

    3 Beat the eggs, milk and cream together in a large jug. Mix together the lemon rind and juice, vanilla seeds and sugar in a small bowl and then add to the egg mixture, beating lightly to combine.

    4 Spread the slices of bread with the softened butter and cut off the crusts, then cut into triangles. Scatter half of the prunes and sultanas into the bottom of the buttered dish and arrange a layer of the bread triangles on top. Pour over half of the egg mixture, pressing the bread down gently. Then repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients and sprinkle the nutmeg on top.

    5 Place the dish into a roasting tin and fill with warm water until it comes three-quarters of the way up the dish. Bake for 30–35 minutes, until just set.

    6 Meanwhile, sieve the marmalade and then heat it in a small pan. Brush the top of the cooked pudding with the marmalade to form a nice glaze when it comes out of the oven. Dust lightly with icing sugar.

    7 To serve, cut into slices while still warm and arrange on warmed serving plates with custard, pouring cream or ice cream.

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