There’s no racing to the finish line when there’s a long, lazy brunch to be savoured. Still top on the list has to be a good roast chicken, bursting with flavour and tenderness and once in the over allows the cook to get on and make some other delectable treats to accompany it. Sweet potato, pumpkin gratin and some homemade beetroot sauce will make your Sunday brunch the cosiest of them all.

mr willis Roast chicken with Provençale pumpkin

Roast chicken

1 whole chicken(≈2kg)

20 curry leaves dry or fresh

1 lemon        

2 sticks cinnamon

salt, pepper

olive oil

white wine


Pumpkin Gratin   

1kg pumpkin           

4tbs flour      

4tbs chopped parsley      

120ml olive oil         

3 garlic cloves smashed

salt & pepper


Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Take a lovely fresh roasting chicken; Remove the head ,the neck and the feet. Wash it well then rub it with salt, inside & out. Quarter a lemon and squeeze the juice all over. Sprinkle about the curry leaves & smashed cinnamon stick (big chunks). Place in a dish or a plastic bag and leave in the fridge 12 hours or overnight. Note: this has the effect of brining - lets the salt get into the meat.

Tie the chicken with kitchen string; pull it tight to form a tight 'football' shape. Rub the chicken with olive oil and some flaky salt & black pepper. Place in a roasting dish, with the lemons skins as well. Roast the chicken 200°C fan forced for 30 min.  Turn the chicken around at half time. Depending on oven this may take longer. To check if the chicken is cooked use a knife to look between the leg and the breast at the joint - is the meat cooked? Is the juice clear? Let the chicken rest 10- 20 min.

Wash the pumpkin, then cut of the skin with a large knife. Remove the seed with a spoon. Roughly dice the pumpkin in to 1 inch squares. Toss the rest of the ingredients in together. Tip into a gratin dish - ceramic like what you would cook lasagne in. Bake in a 180°C oven till the pumpkin is soft and crusty and brown on top.

Take the roasted chicken out of its pan. Carve off the wings, then the legs, then breasts. Pour the roasting pan juices into a small saucepan and heat on the stove. Add a splash (50ml) of white wine. Rub all the crusty bits of the pan; pour all of this in to the sauce pot. Add salt and pepper to taste, pour into a jug.

Serve the jug of jus beside the roast chicken and pumpkin.

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