James Henry, a Washington D.C. boy who went to school in Montreal, has four memorable qualities; he’s obsessed with alien conspiracy theories, always wears beautiful hand-crafted leather shoes,  doesn’t own a pair of jeans, and makes the most amazing roast chicken I have ever had. On weekends, James used to throw last minute dinner parties featuring the same chicken dish and there was never enough to go around. Anyone invited the first time always wanted a second invite, including me. Seriously: this chicken made fast friends. In fact, the more I think about it, this roast chicken was James’ hook, his way of drawing people to him. It was his social glue. When James left town, I didn’t just miss James, I missed his chicken. After a while, a culinary sadness swept over me. Would I never again savour those amazing flavours?


Fortunately, James blew into Montreal recently for a visit and  I was quick to suggest he whip up his signature dish.  I even picked up all the ingredients myself (including two organic chickens — kaching!) bringing them over to the apartment where he was crashing and saying, “James. Make!  Please!?” I watched him prepare the chicken and wrote down the very easy recipe. All my friends agree, it’s simply the best roasted chicken recipe we know. Even better, now I can make it myself. Thanks for sharing James. Culinary sadness gone.


James Henry’s Roast Chicken




The secret to my friend James Henry’s roast chicken is the grated lemon and piles of tarragon. It’s so lemon-y and delicious, it’ll blow your mind. This chicken makes a perfect dinner for you and your man, with ample lunch leftovers. It’s also ideal for a small dinner party. (Don’t forget to boil the carcass when you’re done, it makes a yummy stock.)




1 whole chicken (James swears by organic and I’m inclined to agree. When eating meat, why not eat the best? If you’re penny pinching, just ask friends to chip in three or four bucks to help cover costs. They won’t regret it, I swear.)

2 lemons

1/3 cup dried tarragon or 1 cup fresh chopped


4 cloves garlic, sliced

2-3 tablespoons olive oil



Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Take out icky slippery bits from chicken cavity and discard. Grate entire lemon rind from two lemons over chicken.




James grates the lemon rind over the chicken.








Add the tarragon and garlic, lots of salt, and rub all over, pressing some of the paste under the skin.  Squeeze juice of one lemon over chicken. When finished, put the remaining grated lemon inside the chicken cavity.  Place into oven and cook for two hours or until skin is browned and juices run clear. (For faster cooking you can put the temperature higher, to around 400 F, and reduce cooking time. Obviously cooking time varies with chicken size, and you can always use a meat thermometer to ensure thorough cooking.)


When  the chicken is done you can make a ‘jus’ from the pan drippings by adding a cup of red wine and reducing on the stove for five minutes over medium heat. Serve with mashed potatoes (use my yogurt mash in Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie). For a vegetable side, simple steamed green beans work well.


Thanks again James for sharing this recipe.

2 Responses to “Best Roast Chicken Ever”

  1. Alex Says:

    I’d like to see a recipe for roasted chicken with a beer can up its butt !!!!

  2. laura Says:

    Alexandra, try James Henry’s. Trust me, you will LOVE IT.

    (FYI, I’ve had beer can chicken and it was very good. However, I still prefer a chicken with a lemon in its butt.)

Leave a comment !