Three Pepper Garlic Roast Chicken – the everyday Sunday Roast

Three Pepper Garlic Roast Chicken

Sunday roast, a fond memory for many. Lamb, beef or more commonly, chicken roasted in the oven or in a pot on the stove, along with potatoes and served with gravy on the side, often the bisto variety (served with all roasts, it was).

I find myself longing for the comfort of the Sunday meal on a weekday too and roasting a bird isn’t any strenuous effort. Apart from mixing up a marinade to slather over it, and turning it over a few times, there isn’t much to be done.

What’s best about the weekday roast, is that leftover chicken can be used in sandwiches with cucumber and tzatziki or in salads with spinach, green apple and walnuts, or whatever you fancy.

The secret to the perfect roast chicken, is not in the spicage. It is in the bird itself. Get the best free -range chicken you can find. It makes all the difference- the meat remains plump and tender with no or very little shrinkage, even if you suspend it above the pan and out of the oils and juices, like I did in this case.

While lemon, thyme and garlic remain the go-to holy trinity of roast chicken flavourants, I enjoy dressing up my chickens in different and exciting outfits. Today, for example I made a Lebanese variety with zaa’tar, sumac, pomegranate arils (frozen), garlic, olive oil and natural yoghurt.

In this recipe, I use a trio of pepper: black, green and pink along with chilli flakes, garlic, lemon, thyme and olive oil for a sublime peppery chicken. Don’t be afraid of garlic, it mellows in the long roasting and flavours the chicken and the juices that drip down that can be used to further brown any spuds you may use.


1 x large free range chicken, fresh or thawed ( roughly 1.5 kg in my case)

1 lemon, zested

1 T black peppercorns

1 T green peppercorns

1 T pink peppercorns

1 t chilli flakes (use as much as you prefer)

6 large garlic cloves

5 springs thyme

60 ml olive oil

salt, to taste


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a deep roasting pan.

In a pestle and mortar, pound the lemon zest, peppercorns, chilli flakes, thyme leaves and garlic with a generous pinch of salt.

Once it eases into a paste, add the juice of the lemon and the olive oil. Mix well and add more salt if needed.

Loosen the skin over the breast-bone away from the chicken, as much as you can without tearing the skin and apply the paste under the skin, in the cavity and all over the bird.

Tuck the lemon halves into the cavity. It’s a good idea to roast the potatoes along with the chicken in the same pan.

Roast for 40 minutes. Turn and roast for a further 35 minutes.

Turn up the heat to 190 degrees Celsius, turn the bird again and roast for 10 minutes to brown up the skin.

If you suspend the chicken and spuds, like I did, it may be a good idea to remove the chicken, and a bit of the juices to make a gravy.

Coat the potatoes in the remaining juices in the pan and roast for a further 8 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius to brown up, which is what I did after the chicken was done.

* note cooking times will depend on the size of the chicken and your oven. Chicken is done when a skewer is pierced through the thickest part and the juices run clear*

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