January 18, 2023

Ask A Chef: Ryan Lister’s Proper Roast Chicken

Recipe: Ryan Lister

Ryan Lister of The Rabbit Hole shares the pub’s recipe for Proper Roast Chicken.

Q: I recently had a delicious roast chicken dinner at The Rabbit Hole in Toronto. Would it be possible to get the recipe for the chicken and all the sides? — Stephen, Toronto

A: Ryan, the executive chef at Oliver & Bonacini’s new upscale British pub, says the key to success for the best roast chicken is to brine and dry the skin. “Those extra steps really take this chicken from tasty to wow!” he says. The perfect sides are cheesy broccoli, a sweet pea purée and a rich jus. “This recipe serves four but if there’s only two of you, that’s even better because the leftovers are delicious,” he says.

Send your questions to [email protected].


Roast Chicken

  • 3 litres water
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 100 g salt
  • 150 g sugar
  • 1 whole organic chicken (2–3 lbs.), wings removed
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 lemon
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 small onions (skin on)


  • 2 chicken wings (taken from the above whole chicken)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 small shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1⁄2 tsp peppercorns
  • 500 mL white wine
  • 250 mL sherry
  • 500 mL chicken demi-glace (find at your local butcher shop)
  • Sprig thyme
  • Sprig rosemary

Pea Purée

  • 500 g frozen peas
  • 1–2 tbsp salt
  • 100 g butter
  • 1 tsp sugar (if needed)

Cheesy Broccoli

  • 500 mL milk
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small peeled shallot
  • 1 clove
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp hot English mustard
  • 1 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • 250 g aged white cheddar cheese
  • 1 dash Tabasco
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk


Yield: Serves 4

Brine Chicken

  1. First, we brine! Boil water, thyme, peppercorns and bay leaves, then add sugar and salt until fully dissolved. Leave to cool.
  2. When cool, submerge whole chicken (minus wings) into brine. Leave overnight in fridge for 12 hours. After 12 hours, remove from brine and place on tray with cooling rack. Pat chicken skin dry and leave uncovered in fridge for 2 days, until skin is completely dry. Air circulation is key.

Make Jus

  1. Take chicken wings and sear in pan with canola oil, until dark golden. When golden, add shallots, garlic and peppercorns, and cook until shallots and garlic are soft or caramelized. Strain off excess oil.
  2. Add white wine and sherry to deglaze all roasted bits on bottom of pan. Reduce wine until nearly evaporated. Add demi-glace and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, add sprig of thyme and rosemary and turn heat off. Leave to infuse for 20 minutes.
  3. Strain through fine strainer and finish with sherry vinegar. Set aside to reheat on roasting day.

Roast Chicken

  1. Set oven to 350°F with fan (or 375°F without fan). Lightly rub chicken with canola oil, then carefully season with salt. Make sure to cover entire bird in even layer of salt. Be careful to only season skin. Place half of lemon into cavity.
  2. Chop carrots in half, lengthwise, and chop onions into halves for trivet. Lay them flat on roasting tray, then place seasoned chicken on top with breast and legs facing upward (these veggies will roast up and be delicious as sides). Place in oven for 60 minutes.

Make Pea Purée

  1. Bring 2-litre pot of water to a boil. Add peas and cook for 2 minutes, until soft. Strain and retain about 100 mL of water.
  2. Add peas, water, salt and butter, and blend until smooth. If peas need extra sweetness, add sugar.

Make Cheesy Broccoli

  1. Add milk, thyme, bay leaf, shallot, clove and peppercorns to pot. Bring to a boil and turn off. Leave for 10 minutes, then strain.
  2. Steam or boil broccoli for 1 minute. It should still be nice and crunchy. Place in ovenproof tin. In separate pot, melt butter and add flour to make white roux. Cook on low for a couple of minutes, then slowly add infused milk in increments, whisking to ensure there are no lumps.
  3. When smooth and back to a boil, add all remaining ingredients, except egg yolk. Mix until smooth. Check seasoning, then add egg yolk and pour over broccoli. Bake at 425°F until golden, or gratin under broiler.

Finish Chicken, Assemble Dinner and Serve

  1. After 60 minutes, remove chicken from oven and baste with rendered oil and fat. Return to oven for another 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven and check thickest part of breast has hit 165°F. When ready, remove from oven and rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Carve and serve with sides and jus.

Pauline Yu


House & Home, Recipe by Ryan Lister