Sweet dreams are made of garlic anchovy butter-roasted chicken.

If you were to ask me what my final meal would be, I’d say roast chicken with no hesitation. 

And this recipe for it comes out very high on my list. A fine fat organic chicken basted in anchovy garlic butter and cooked in a combination of white wine, herbs and a splash of water. The liquid plays its part by steaming the bird, ensuring a tender juicy breast whilst the butter crisps the skin to golden perfection. 

Never one to shy away from the concept of “too much butter” (rather no such thing), before roasting I loosen the skin covering the breast and spoon extra butter into the neat little pockets provided. During cooking, the butter melts into the meat and the aromatics (garlic, rosemary, brown anchovy fillets) flavour the chicken from within. From lubrication for toast destined for a dippy yolk to a fragrantly fishy twist on traditional garlic bread, adding anchovies to butter is a game-changer. 
These glossily brown slivers of flavour – known for their addictive saltiness and umami appeal – live in perpetuity inside my refrigerator door, where they are often replaced as I’m know to fish out a fillet or two to be added to a roasted tomato pasta sauce or simply enjoyed mashed into hot toasted ciabatta rubbed with a half a garlic clove and drizzled liberally with good olive oil. 


To serve I require little more than a loaf of crusty bread to mop up those pan juices but I guess one can level up a little with the addition of seared asparagus topped with Parmesan shavings and black pepper. 

Garlic Anchovy Butter-roasted Chicken

Prep time: 15 mins /Cook time: 1 hour /Serves: 4-6

You will need:

  • an organic chicken, about 1 – 1.5kgs
  • 250g salted butter at room temperature
  • 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 6 to 8 brown anchovy fillets, with about 2ml of their oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • 250ml water
  • Extra rosemary sprigs and lemon to stuff the chicken with (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Clean the chicken, pat it dry with paper towel and set aside. In a bowl, combine the butter, chopped rosemary anchovy fillets, oil, lemon juice and crushed garlic. Use a spoon to roughly mash the ingredients together and season with black pepper and if required, salt. Using your fingers, rub the garlic anchovy butter all over the chicken. Use a blunt-bladed knife to loosen the skin over the breast and push butter into the pocket as this ensures a juicy roast. Reserve any extra butter for basting or freeze and keep for garlic bread or marinades. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with a halved lemon and extra rosemary sprigs. Use kitchen twine to securely truss up the legs of the chicken.

Place the chicken on a griddle within a roasting dish and fill the base with wine and water. This aids in steaming the chicken while it cooks. Cover the top of the dish and the chicken with foil and roast at 220°C for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and turn the oven down to 180°C. If required, baste the chicken in more of the anchovy butter and return to the oven for a further 40 minutes, basting again after 20 minutes. When the chicken is ready, the skin should be golden and crispy.

I served my chicken with a bottle of Creation’s 2020 Viognier – an abundantly fruity and forthcoming wine that is refined on the nose with fragrant white peach aromas mingling with a creamy character. The Viognier’s crisp minerality breaks through the richness of the anchovy butter and lends a bouncy, well-integrated natural acidity to the pairing.


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