The inspiration for this recipe comes from Justine Drake’s recipe  for roast chicken with verjuice and herbs, published in Fresh Living magazine a while ago. I simply love the herby sauce this makes, and think this is one of the best roast chicken recipes ever.

succulent roast baby chickens

The baby chickens used in this recipe are free-range chickens that are reared on a farm about 80kms outside of Cape Town, and I got them from Salvin Hirschfield the butcher at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Biscuit Mill (* PS – now he is as the Orajezicht City Farm Market). If you don’t know him, its well worth going to the market to procure one of his beautiful, plump, free range chickens or some of his other spectacular meat. His chickens remind me of the ones we ate when I was a child, and can easily feed a family of four. I had forgotten how much white meat a bird could have and the flavour is far superior.


baby chickens roasted in wine and herbs

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours


  • 1 onion peeled and roughly chopped (I like to add onion and carrot to my roasting pan to add flavour)
  • 2 carrots peeled and roughly chopped
  • 250ml (1 cup) dry white wine
  • 125ml (1/2 a cup) chicken stock
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) finely chopped herbs (I used rosemary, parsley and thyme) – but sage and basil are also good
  • 4 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 3 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 34 Tbs of olive oil (I like to coat the chicken to ensure a beautiful crispy brown skin)
  • salt and pepper


  1. Pre heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
  2. Place the chicken on the chopped onion and carrots in a deep sided roasting pan.
  3. Mix all the liquid, mustard and herbs together and pour this sauce over the chickens and into the cavity.
  4. Drizzle over the olive oil and season the birds with salt and pepper and roast uncovered for 1 1/2 hours and until the chickens are cooked. I roast with the breast side up for 30 minutes, then flip them so the underside goes golden for hte next 30 minutes and hten flip it back up right for the final 30 minutes.
  5. Strain the pan juices, onion and carrot and use this delicious jus as your gravy


  • Serving Size: 1 large chicken, 2 babies
ready for a roasting
Just out the oven

I like to cut the chicken up into rustic big pieces and then pour over the pan sauce so they wallow in it before serving.

wallowing in sauce
so much flavour
comfort food at its best

I look forward to connecting with you again


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  1. Yumscrumptious!! Guess what I’m gonna be havin for dinner tonight! 🙂
    Ps. I think the photos look just divine 🙂

  2. Absolutely mouthwatering, Sam. Beautiful photographs, lovely styling and great recipe. Congrats, and please send over left overs

  3. Sam

    Thanks JA 🙂
    All eaten I’m afraid, but thoroughly delicious choeks from Salvin, couldn’t believe how much meat on those little babies.
    s x

  4. Sam

    Thanks so much Jon. Seriously try this recipe, its a total winner! (and then let me know what you thought)

  5. Just the most beautiful photos featuring a blikbord! And the simplest, yummiest recipe for the poussins – aromatics, herbs and gentle acid balance from the white wine and mustard.

    Mr Hirschfield has the most schizophrenic business card: white “Neighbourhood Butcher” on the front, black “Forensic Auditor” on the back. Wonder which came first?

  6. Sam

    Hi Steve and thank you. I had no idea Salvin was a forensic auditor, how interesting. His meat is certainly at the top of the heap.

  7. Brilliant work Sam, absolutely stunning. Hope your quests were appreciative of this meal!

  8. dina gibbs

    Absolutely scrumptious looking – I can practically smell it! My mouth is watering… beautiful photography, too!

  9. Crispy skin, juicy bird- this is what Sunday lunch is all about. About time I made a roast chicken too. Lovely pics, now as Jane Anne said, send some over 😉

  10. Hi Sam
    Very yummy recipe and the styling / pics really great!
    The petit p are available during the week if anyone call me on 0823079985 – Neighbourgood Butcher – or on a Saturday morning at the neighbourgoods market.

  11. Nothing beats the taste of a free range organic chicken. They don’t shrink to the size of a peanut in the oven and as you say one chicken – goes far!! It’s just so important to be mindful of where our food comes from. This is such a great way to cook a chicken allowing all the natural flavours to prevail xxxx jan

  12. Oh my! These birds look absolutely heavenly! And that sauce – well worth making the recipe just for that delicious sauce =)

  13. Sam

    HI Jan, Thanks so much, I find this to be one of the best recipes ever for roast chicken. I love all the flavourful sauce it makes. s

  14. Sam

    Thanks Peggy! The sauce is superb. You could even add a bit more stock and wine to get even more.

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  16. According to my boyfriend this is the best roast chicken I have ever made. So thank you for this fantastic simple recipe.

  17. This is probably the best roast chicken I’ve ever made. I usually put butter under and on the skin so this was a nice change without all that extra fat. The flavor of the strained pan sauce was so good we were dipping the chicken in it!

  18. Sam

    Thanks Torrey, I think so too and glad you enjoyed it. The sauce is something else.

  19. Sam

    Thnaks Lori – wish you were here – I need my eating partner. S xx

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  21. Belinda Visser

    OMG! this recipe is fantastic! so easy and so delicious…its my new fave.
    Thank you for sharing. The only thing I did differently was stuff my baby chicken with a few whole herbs and a whole (pierced) lemon – which complimented the dish perfectly.

  22. Sam

    Hi Belinda – Im so pleased. Thanks for letting me know

  23. Hi Sam

    what could I substitute for the wine?will it still taste the same?

    Thanks 😉

  24. Sam

    Hi Subsititue Verjuice – its delicious and contains no alcohol.

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  27. How would red wine taste as a substitute for the dry white ?

  28. Sam

    Hi Charity, I dont think well this is very much designed around white wine or Verjuice. If you search my site I have a fabulous recipe for a red wine roast chicken whichis delicious.

  29. This is Celsius? So it should be almost 400* F???

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  31. Michelle

    Can white cooking wine be used or does it need to be real wine?

  32. Sam

    HI Michelle, this comment got me confused. What is white cooking wine vs real wine? I only know real wine. Wine you can actually drink and sometiems add to cooking. What is cooking wine?

  33. Today is Christmas. Made a dinner just for two. Used Cornish hens and Pinot Noir. All I had. Absolutely delicious. And great presentation. Onions and carrots and a bell pepper from my garden. A keeper!

  34. Michelle

    Hi, i couldn’t find the recipe on this website. Could you please specify where to download it? Thank you very much.

  35. Sam

    HI Michelle
    Thanks for letting me know and the plugin stopped working. The recipe is up and running again now again on hte post.


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  40. So excited for to try this! I would love to do it in my slow cooker though… do you think it would work!?

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  43. This is hands down one of my favorite recipes that I have made for years. Thank you so much!!

  44. Sam

    Hi Monica, I’m so glad to hear you love it.

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