Wine roasted chicken with allspice and star anise

I was eager to try out the spices I had picked up from Kochi. Thinking up ways to combine them in a single dish was a challenge, not the vanilla beans, of course. It was tempting to go Chinese, then I decided to leave out the cashews as well and use just the star anise and pimento.

Pimento is also known as allspice, so called because it smells of a combination of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg. A bit of a Geography lesson for me as I thought allspice grew only in Jamaica. Well, apparently not.

Star anise, with its licorice flavour, is used in a lot of Indian and Malay curries and also in Chinese dishes which need long, slow cooking.

My dressed chicken arrived soon enough and the marinade was a breeze- red wine, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, garlic cloves, bay leaves and the aforementioned allspice and star anise.

A good rub with the marinade and the chicken sat in its brown bath till roasting time.

Slices from 2 onions formed the cushion for the bird to rest on, the lemon halves were placed in the bird's cavity and the baking tray was then placed in the oven.

I do not like to use the rotisserie function in my oven so half way through  the bird was turned around and then popped back into the oven.

The aroma from the spices filled the house. And it tasted fabulous, the spices taking the flavour of the roast to another dimension.

Here's the recipe:

Wine roasted chicken with allspice and star anise

1.5 kg dressed chicken

1/2 cup red wine
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp mustard paste
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
4 tbsp olive oil
2 teaspoons lime juice
8 cloves garlic, crush lightly with the flat side of a knife
2 whole star anise
10 allspice
2 bay leaves
2 onions, sliced thick

Clean and pat dry the chicken with paper towels.
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and rub well over the chicken.
Place in a glass bowl, cover well and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Line a roasting pan with foil, place onion slices in a single layer and place chicken on it.
Place one star anise in the cavity along with most of the garlic and the lemon halves, pour over the remaining marinade.
Place the remaining spices, garlic and a couple of onion slices on top of the chicken.
Roast in a preheated 200°C oven for about 30 minutes, when golden brown, turn over carefully and roast for another 20-30 minutes at 180°C.
Test for doneness by piercing a skewer through the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked.
Remove from the oven and place the chicken on a wire rack, loosely cover with a tent of foil. Strain the gravy and keep aside the onion slices and serve with the chicken
Carve or joint the chicken, place on a platter and serve with gravy, a salad and bread. A garlic bread would be lovely.

If you prefer the skin to be crisp all over, put the chicken on a wire rack that fits into the roasting pan. Pour half a cup of light chicken stock into the pan and the remaining marinade over the chicken and then place it in the oven. As the chicken cooks, the juices will drip into the pan.  Baste the chicken with the pan juices every few minutes, following the timing and turn it over as indicated in the recipe.


  1. The red wine can be left out sara or is that a must ?

  2. You can leave out the wine and use a little chicken stock if you wish.


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