If a whole turkey is too much for your small holiday get together, here's roast chicken with aromatic Thai herbs that will be new and delicious! Rest assured that it will still go very well with traditional Western-style side dishes, so bring on the mashed potatoes!
Flavoured with a simple, classic Thai marinade, then roasted on a bed of Thai herbs, this chicken is infused with subtle Thai aromas. The gravy is enriched with coconut milk and it is just out of this world!
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- 1 whole chicken
- 4 stalks lemongrass, cut in half and smashed (use the whole stalk)
- 10 slices galangal
- 5 kaffir lime leaves, torn
- 8 slices ginger (optional)
- 2 heads shallots, diced
- ½ tsp white peppercorns
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 6 cloves garlic
- 3 cilantro roots or 6 cilantro stems
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped palm sugar
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp black soy sauce or dark soy sauce
- ¼ cup water
- 1 - 1 ½ cup water
- 2-4 Tbsp coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- A squeeze of lime juice or lemon juice
- Black soy sauce, as needed
- Preheat the oven to 450°F and place the rack so that the chicken will be in the middle of the oven. Note: I recommend using an oven thermometer to make sure you are at 450°F; most ovens are inaccurate, and if it’s too hot, the skin might burn too quickly. My oven, for example, has to be set at 430°F to achieve 450°F.
- Make the marinade: Pound peppercorns into a fine powder. Add garlic, cilantro roots and salt; pound into a fine paste. Add palm sugar and pound until mostly dissolved. Add fish sauce, black soy sauce and water, stir to combine.
- Prep the chicken: Trim off any large pieces of fat near the cavity opening of the chicken and tweeze off any leftover pin feathers. Spatchcock the chicken by removing the spine of the chicken with kitchen shears and then flattening the chicken out (see video for instructions). Chop the spine up into chunks, discard the tail end.
- Sit the chicken up in a wide, large mixing bowl. Insert your finger under the skin of the breasts to separate it from the meat. Pour about 1 tablespoon of the marinade under each side of the breast skin, rubbing the skin to distribute the marinade evenly. Do the same with the thigh skin, and pour 1 tablespoon of marinade into each side of the thigh as well. Place the chicken skin-side down and pour the remaining marinade over the chicken. Rub the marinade all over the inside of the chicken, then turn the chicken around and rub the skin. Let the chicken marinade, skin-side down, for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Halfway through, turn the chicken around to re-distribute the marinade evenly around the chicken. Note: If you want to marinade the chicken overnight, place it in the fridge and remove it from the fridge 1 hour before roasting.
- Meanwhile, make a quick stock for your gravy. Place the spine into a small pot and cover with water. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Make a bed on the bottom of a roasting pan or a baking sheet with the herbs, and pour about ½ cup of water over the herbs to help them steam under the chicken. Tip: I prefer a baking sheet with shorter rims to allow heat to better circulate the chicken.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and place the on the herbs, skin side up. (Reserve the marinade). Rub or brush the skin with oil all over. Roast chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your chicken. If the skin darkens too quickly, you can reduce the temperature to 400°F. Keep an eye on the roasting pan—once chicken juices are well browned onto the bottom of the pan, add a little water to deglaze. If the pan dries up again, keep adding more water to deglaze. Tip: Don’t add too much water, we want just enough water to have a shallow puddle on the pan.
- The chicken is done when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F. When done, place the chicken onto a plate to rest. Place the herbs onto a serving platter to create a bed for the chicken to be plated on.
- Finish the gravy: Remove the spine from the stock and skim off any scum that floats to the top. Pour the liquid from the roasting pan into the stock, along with the reserved marinade, and any juices collected from the resting chicken at this point. Bring to a boil. If there are lots of little chunks from the herbs in the marinade, you can remove it with a fine mesh skimmer or strain it out.
- Taste the gravy, and if it is too weak, reduce it further to concentrate the flavour. Or if you wish to maintain the volume of the gravy, you can add more seasoning. Stir in the coconut milk.
- Dissolve the cornstarch in a little bit of water and stir in half of this slurry into the gravy. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, adding more of the slurry if you want the gravy to be thicker. If you want the gravy to be darker in colour, add a dash of black soy sauce.
- Remove from heat and squeeze in a bit of the lime juice (just 1 teaspoon or so). Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Place the chicken on top of the herbs on the serving platter and serve with the gravy. Enjoy!