I often ask the twins what their favourite meal is and they always say roast chicken.

There is something very comforting about a whole roast chicken brought to the table. It reminds me of family Sunday lunches from childhood. It is hard to beat a good-quality Bord Bia chicken.

We would have this a couple of times a month. My father-in-law loves it too.

I recently tasted a great chicken from Noone’s Poultry run by Gerard Noone in Clonmany on the Inishowen Peninsula. It was cooked by Donegal chef and friend Brian McDermott.

Fragrant roast chicken with sausage stuffing. \ Food styling: Janine Kennedy. Photography: Philip Doyle.

Lemon and thyme are great flavours with chicken. I’ve added garlic and lots of root vegetables here. Don’t overcook the chicken and keep spooning the juices over it as it cooks. My mum’s trick was to twist the drumstick to check the meat – when it is cooked the whole chicken is cooked.

For me the gravy makes it. This sausage stuffing is rich but I think stuffing is a must with roast chicken.

It is hard to beat the humble spud. The potato ricer in my range at Dunne Stores gives a lump-free potato and I think it is a great gadget. It gets a lot of use in our house. For me, red-skinned Rooster potatoes make the best mash. They have very few eyes and have a consistently floury texture. Just add milk and butter. These mashed potatoes will keep warm in a very cool oven for up to three hours.

Roasted root veg. \ Food styling: Janine Kennedy. Photography: Philip Doyle.

Rice pudding is a wonderful comfort dessert. Sometimes I put in lemon zest but I always put vanilla into it. I make it with Jersey milk from The Village Dairy in Clonmore, Co Carlow. I’ve also made this with arborio rice with takes a little longer to cook. Wexford Preserves makes a great raspberry jam. Rice pudding takes me back to going to a local hotel in Enniskillen with my dad and this was our dessert. We used to love it after a roast dinner. Good memories.

Happy cooking,



Fragrant roast chicken with sausage stuffing

Serves four to six

Fragrant roast chicken with sausage stuffing. \ Food styling: Janine Kennedy. Photography: Philip Doyle.

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

Crispy roast potatoes, to serve

Buttered peas, to serve

For the sausage stuffing roll:

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 1 tbsp of olive oil. Sit the chicken on top of the pile of vegetables and drizzle all over with the remaining 2 tbsp 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).
  • 6 Roast the chicken for 1 hour 20 minutes, basting the chicken halfway through cooking.
  • 7 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. 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.
  • 8 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.
  • 9 When the chicken is cooked, transfer the chicken 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.
  • 10 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 with a potato masher.
  • 11 Pour in the wine and allow it to bubble down, stirring continuously to blend the flour in.
  • 12 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.
  • 13 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.
  • 14 To serve, carve the chicken into slices and arrange on warmed serving plates with the reserved carrots and red onion halves. 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

    Serves four to six

    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 or vegetable mouli 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.
  • Rice pudding

    Serves four to six

    500ml (18fl oz) milk

    200ml (7fl oz) cream

    100g (4oz) short-grain pudding rice

    75g (3oz) caster sugar

    25g (1oz) butter

    ½ vanilla pod, split in half lengthways, or 1 tsp vanilla extract

    Raspberry jam (to serve, optional)

  • 1 Place the milk and cream in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  • 2 Stir in the rice, sugar, butter and vanilla pod or extract and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the rice is tender and creamy, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn’t catch on the bottom.
  • 3 Remove the vanilla pod from the pan and discard. Spoon the rice pudding into warmed bowls and add a little raspberry jam, if liked, to serve.
  • Mashed potato variations

    Once mastered, this recipe can be adapted for different results. Try replacing a couple tbsp of the milk with crème fraîche or cream for a richer version. A couple of tbsp 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 2 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 2 tbsp of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley.


    Heat 4 finely chopped spring onions with the milk and/or cream before beating into the mashed potatoes.