Lunch or Dinner, Savoury, Super Easy

In the Comfort of Lemon & Rosemary Roast Chicken

I’ve felt the slow fog of exhausted depression steadily envelop my mind the last few days. My son’s sleeplessness, already legendary amongst family and friends, has taken a large turn for the worse the past couple of weeks and I’ve finally reached the point of barely functioning. I spent all day in bed yesterday, the impending shame of no dinner on the table being the only thing that got me groggily moving during late afternoon. I feel almost totally numb, like a heavy blanket has been gently tucked around my brain.

Depression and I fought monumental battles during my teens and early twenties. A quote on my phone at that time from the great wartime British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, read

“Never, never, never give up”

One of my great fears is to be pulled back into that half-lit existence, with an insurmountable glass wall rising up between me and the rest of the world. Where I can see people but can’t connect in any meaningful way, and the loneliness cripples my soul.

Logic tells me it’s currently exhaustion not depression but, like an alcoholic’s home in the bottle, my mind’s misguided safe place is the grey zone I can’t will or intellectualise my way out of. A deeply frustrating and scary position for a wilful semi-intellectual like me.

I’m doing what I can, based on my experience of actions that work. Calling appropriate people who can listen and advise without judgement or meaningless platitude. Going for walks and gentle swims. Allowing myself to rest, with permission not to feel guilty. Meditating. Actively not comparing myself to the rest of the world who currently seem so functional and obviously more competent than me in every way. Finding laughter wherever and whenever I can. Watching beautiful videos like this one, based on a poem by Shane Koyczan

I’m assured that all I need is enough rest and self-care and, unlike depression, it will pass rather quickly.

And in the spirit of self-care and comfort, I chose to make a roast chicken recipe that I‘ve been gradually honing for over 15 years. Roast is unbelievably easy to make, because even at the best of times I’m all about getting the most bang for my buck. It’s one of my ultimate comfort foods; juicy, delicate, crisp skinned and comforting. Here, where it’s currently warm, it’s delicious with salads and a fresh baguette. In the colder climates (hi guys!) throw some peeled root vegetables in the pan for the last hour or so of cooking. Save the chicken carcass and any root vegetable peelings in a bag in the freezer to make delicious homemade stock (recipe on the Imperfect Kitchen’s Facebook page if you need one). Nothing could be easier, tastier or, for me at this time, more comforting.


  • 1 tbl sp vegetable oil
  • 1.8kg chicken, the best quality you can afford
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • a large pinch of coarsely ground pepper
  • a large pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 190˚C

Pour the sunflower oil into a large baking dish and place it in the oven while it warms

Finely chop the leaves from 3 sprigs of rosemary

Squeeze the juice from the lemon but keep the lemon carcass

Finely chop 3 cloves of garlic

Mix the butter with the finely chopped rosemary, lemon juice, finely chopped garlic and pepper

Rinse the chicken with cold water, inside and out, and pat dry

Carefully push your fingers between the chicken skin and meat, opening a space while making sure not the break the skin

Push the butter mix into the chicken underneath the skin, trying to keep the coverage even

Rub your greasy hands all over the outside of the chicken, making sure to get into all the little crevices

Sprinkle the salt on the chicken skin and gently rub all over

Store the lemon carcass, 3 whole cloves of garlic and 3 sprigs of rosemary inside the chicken

Remove the pan from the oven and put the chicken in the pan

Return the pan to the oven and cook the chicken for 80 minutes (20 minutes per 450g). Baste every 20 to 30 minutes

Once the chicken has cooked this long, turn up the heat to 220˚C and cook for a further 15 minutes

Leave to rest, covered loosely in tin foil for 10-15 minutes before serving


14 thoughts on “In the Comfort of Lemon & Rosemary Roast Chicken

  1. Alix M-Z says:

    Never, never, never stop writing. You clearly have a great talent for connecting with people through your musings – keep hold of that ! Plus your recipes sound divine !


  2. I’m so jealous of your warm weather! It was 8F degrees this morning! And some nimwit that lives in a building on the street above mine threw out gallons upon gallons of water down his driveway, which went on to ours. Needless to say it froze, and now it is causing people to barely make it up the hill without endless skidding. I love roast chicken, though. So versatile with the flavor options! Hopefully you get some sleep soon!


    • You poor thing, I feel for Americans at the moment, it looks unbelievably cold (I suppose it’s a little wrong of me to write that I giggled ever so slightly while reading your story). If it’s any consolation, Australia has every poisonous thing in the world.

      I hope a good roast chicken cheers up your freezing winter (or at least helps to defrost the road)!


  3. Red Fortress says:

    Oh Susanne I really feel for you. I know that fog and self-perpetuating isolation so well. I hope you are as proud of you as I am, despite your mental haze you continue to write beautifully and my taste buds dance with your vivid descriptions. Keep being kind to yourself, and know it won’t last for ever. My motto – tomorrow is always better.


  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m new to your site and just clicked in to read your Lemon and Rosemary Roast Chicken recipe but I stopped short when I read your post. Everything you said resonated so clearly and completely with me that I feel a sense of validation about my own continual quest to remain on the right side of the fog. (Cooking is one of my key ways to do this.) In the high Arctic where I live, currently steeped in round the clock darkness, I am already cheered by the idea of a roast chicken cooking tonight. Thanks for the post.


    • Thank you so much for your comment, and I’m really touched that you felt a resonation with my writing. I couldn’t imagine being in constant physical darkness at the moment, you’re far braver than I am to live through that. My thoughts will be with you through today and I hope the chicken brings some cheer in the darkness.


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