Roast chicken with pearl couscous and roast sweet potato salad

Posted on June 24, 2014


Unless you are vegetarian or vegan, roast chicken is one of those dishes everyone learns to cook and eventually develops their own way of doing. (Even if you are vegetarian/vegan, keep reading, the accompanying couscous and sweet potato salad is pretty good.) Certainly I’m aware I do a couple of things differently to my roast chicken. Firstly, with the marinade, I don’t just rub it all over the chicken on the exterior. I also rub inside the chicken too. I get the marinade into the cavity and I will also go under the skin to let the marinade have direct contact with the breast meat. This is done by first inserting my finger between the skin and breast meat to slowly separate the skin and meat, being careful not to tear the skin. After that, just spoon in a bit of marinade and rub it into the meat. The picture below should give an indication of what I’m trying to describe. This results in a more flavoursome roast chicken because it allows the marinade to attach onto a greater surface area.


Secondly, I don’t just bung my chicken in the oven and leave it there for the entire duration of the cook. I always take it out at the halfway mark to brush a bit of extra virgin olive oil on the skin to help it crisp up. This allows me to roast the chicken at a lower temperature to yield a moist and tender chicken while still getting a relatively crisp skin. These two methods are just minor adjustments to the cooking process have been a product of trial and error and I believe they do help me get a better end result. If you try either or both my little tricks, do let me know whether you find it helpful or whether the benefits are all in my head! 🙂

The below roast chicken recipe is a simple one that uses very classic flavours. Nothing too fancy, most of the ingredients in the marinade would be considered standard pantry items in a continental kitchen. There are a million and one things you can serve with roast chicken, here I’ve paired it with a simple pearl couscous, roast sweet potato and coriander salad. Pearl couscous has quite a different texture to regular couscous and one I much prefer; it’s slightly chewy and springy. The salad has been kept pretty plain, but the natural sweetness of the sweet potato and the nuttiness of the pearl couscous keep things interesting while complementing the flavours in this roast chicken. You can mix the salad in a bit of dressing or lemon juice, but I actually like the salad as is.


RECIPE – Roast chicken with pearl couscous and roast sweet potato salad (serves 4)


  • 1 medium sized chicken (~1.3kg)


  • 1 tablespoon mild paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika (or chilli powder)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lemon (reserve lemon skin to place inside chicken cavity)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • leaves from a couple sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)


  • 750g sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • ~1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 150g pearl couscous
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 1/2 cup (375mL) water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 bunch coriander, torn


  1. Mix marinade ingredients into a paste and rub in all over the chicken inside and out. Refer to my above notes regarding coating the inside of the chicken. Place reserved lemon skin into chicken cavity. Leave chicken to marinade in fridge overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 180ºC fan forced (if you don’t have a fan forced oven, use 200ºC  heat).
  3. Place chicken on a roasting rack breast side up and into hot oven. After 30 minutes, remove chicken from oven to brush on a light coat of EVOO. Return chicken to oven at 160ºC fan forced (or 180ºC  non fan forced). Remove from oven when cooked through, about 30 minutes depending on the size of chicken (juices will run clear when you may an incision between the thigh and body). Allow to rest before serving.IMG_8878
  4. While the chicken is roasting, mix diced sweet potatoes with ground cinnamon, salt, pepper and EVOO. Place onto baking tray and put into oven at 160ºC fan forced for ~30 minutes. (This should be going into the oven the same time the chicken returns to the oven at the lower heat.)IMG_8872
  5. To prepare pearl couscous, heat a small saucepan on medium with 1 tablespoon EVOO. Place pearl couscous into hot pan and fry for a minute to brown slightly (this method will give you a a lovely gradient of colours in the cooked grains ranging from creamy yellow to a golden brown, as well as adding some extra flavours). Pour in 1 1/2 cups water and salt to taste. Bring to boil then reduce to a low simmer and cook until all the water has been absorbed (~17 minutes).IMG_8879
  6. Mix pearl couscous with roasted sweet potatoes and torn coriander to make salad. Pour in any pan juices from the sweet potato baking tray.IMG_8881
  7. Serve chicken with prepared salad and lemon wedges.IMG_8882

Great dinner for our wintery nights; you get the warming comfort of the roast chicken, there’s bulk in the couscous and sweet potatoes yet the flavours are fresh enough for it to feel like a light meal. Bonus points for turning any leftovers  into a chicken salad for a work lunch ;).

Posted in: Meats, MissC cooks, Salads