Roast Chicken with cream and tarragon

A recipe from Stephen Markwick

This is one of the first dishes that Stephen cooked when he worked in the Carved Angel in Dartmouth – it is a classic that George-Perry Smith used to serve at the Hole in the Wall in Bath. It would be served whole on  a large platter.
Any leftover chicken can be used for other dishes such as Coronation Chicken or Chicken with Aoli. or Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Serves 4


  • Large free-range chicken (about 1.8Kg – 2Kg)
  • 1 lemon
  • Good handful of fresh tarragon (about 40g)
  • 110g butter
  • 40ml brandy
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 300ml double cream
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Take the chicken and prepare for roasting by cutting off the wing tips.
  2. Cut the lemon in half and rub one half over the chicken. Put the shell inside the chicken and season the bird well inside and out.
  3. Wash the tarragon and set aside some of the best leaves for putting inside the finished sauce. Put the rest of the leaves on the chicken breast and the stalks inside the chicken.
  4. Sit the chicken in a roasting tray on top of the wing tips, then slice the butter thinly and cover the breast and legs leaving a little butter for the cavity of the bird.
  5. Roast in a hot oven (200°C/Gas Mk6) for approximately 20 minutes, turning it down to 180°/Gas Mk4 for a further 40 minutes to 1 hour, basting it regularly.
  6. After 30 minutes of cooking, turn the chicken over and carrying on cooking it breast side down until towards the end of the cooking time and then turn it again and finish it breast side up. (To tell if it’s cooked insert a knife between the leg and breast and pull them slightly apart. If the flesh is still pink carry on cooking for another 10 minutes or so.)
  7. Once the chicken is cooked, salt it and put the roasting tray on a low heat to set the cooking juices which makes it easier to pour off the fat.
  8. You can leave the chicken in the tray for a moment. Once the juices are set, pour off all but a tablespoon or two of the butter and chicken fat, pour the brandy over the bird and set it alight. (If it doesn’t ignite tip the tin slightly away from you and put a match to it).
  9. Take the bird out of the roasting tray and rest in a warm place, loosely covered with foil, whilst you make the sauce.
  10. To make the sauce add the flour to the tin and mix in well, scraping up all the sediment on the bottom of the tray. Add the stock slowly, working it in as you go, then bring up to a simmering point and cook over a low heat until thick.
  11. Add the cream to the sauce.
  12. Finally strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a saucepan, check the seasoning , adding a squeeze of lemon if needed from the other lemon half.
  13. Chop the tarragon leaves and stir them in.


To serve

Carve the chicken and serve with roast or new potatoes, and a salad