A Spotlight On Herbs: Chicken Roasted with Watercress Butter

compound butter: Butter creamed with herbs, spices, garlic, wine, or whatever you wish. Perfect for finishing sauces or jazzing up steamed vegetables, grilled or roasted meat.

watercress: a leafy green aquatic plant that grows naturally around slow moving water sources. This plant bears small, round, slightly scalloped leaves that add a tangy, peppery flavour  to dishes – much like its close cousins, mustard greens and arugula. Classed as a “superfood ,” watercress is said to be rich in health promoting nutrients, having more vitamin C than oranges.  It tastes great too!

All-Purpose Herb Butters

All-purpose herb butters are appropriate wherever you would use the herb, like on this roasted chicken with its crisp skin and moist interior.

Use herb butters on noodles or rice, steamed vegetables, grilled or roasted meat, poultry, or fish. Some herbs are stronger than others, so vary the amount based on the individual herb.

All-purpose herb butters take no time to make. You can mince herbs like parsley, tarragon, chives, dill, sage, rosemary, cilantro, etc., and use a fork to cream them with butter; add salt, pepper or lemon juice to taste if you like. It’s just as easy to mince or puree the flavouring using a food processor and then mash with the butter.

Herb butters freeze perfectly. Cover or wrap and refrigerate or freeze until needed. For longer keeping, wrap tightly in plastic and freeze. The seasoning will retain flavour longer but will gradually fade.

Chicken Roasted with Watercress Butter

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

All-purpose herb butters are appropriate wherever you would use the herb, like on this roasted chicken with its crisp skin and moist interior.


2 cups watercress leaves, tightly packed

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

3 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped

1 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed

1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

1 cup chicken stock

1 medium-sized chicken


  1. Preheat oven to 250⁰F.
  2. Finely chop the watercress and mix with the butter, orange zest, shallot, peppercorn and sea salt.
  3. Loosen the chicken skin by pushing your fingers underneath. Insert the watercress butter under the skin, smoothing it to the shape of the bird.
  4. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, breast down. Add the chicken stock, then roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Turn the chicken over. Roast for an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting occasionally.


To check if the chicken is cooked and ready to serve, insert the tip of a sharp knife into the thickest part of the chicken (in the inner thigh area near the breast). The juice should run clear.

The secret of roast chicken is simple, start with a good bird, time the cooking properly, and serve it promptly.

Saute 1 shallot, at least 6 cloves of garlic and a few slices of orange in any leftover watercress butter and serve with the chicken. Season with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. You will enjoy this!

Butter Up: Other Quick Recipes

Lemon or Lime Butter – You can also make this butter with orange or other citrus fruit. Great on fish or poultry, cooked any way, or on vegetables. Mix together 4 tablespoons softened butter, 1 teaspoon minced lemon or lime zest, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Jalapeno Butter – Serve on food that can stand the heat, mostly grilled, broiled or roasted meats: 4 tablespoons softened butter; juice of ½ a lemon; 2 jalapenos stemmed, seeded and minced; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Ginger Butter – Terrific on grilled fish! Cream together: 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, juice of ½ a lemon, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper with 4 tablespoons softened butter.

Balsamic Butter – A gentle butter that goes well with baked or sauteed fish dishes, grilled mild fish, or steamed vegetables: 4 tablespoons softened butter; 1 tablespoon minced shallot; 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Mustard Butter – Wonderful on crackers served with tuna, crab, shrimp, or other seafood salads; or on any grilled food. Use any kind of mustard; for a real hotter butter, add dry mustard. Cream together 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard with  4 tablespoons softened butter – sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Anchovy Butter – Use on grilled meat or fish, or on steamed vegetables. To make anchovy butter, mince 3 anchovy fillets, add them to 4 tablespoons softened butter. Add 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice. Canned anchovies are better than the salted variety for this purpose.


Watercress is more than just a garnish. Pile the peppery leaves of the watercress into sandwiches, toss them into salads, wilt into pastas or stir-fries, make watercress soup or a watercress sauce much like today’s butter sauce. The best culinary aspect of watercress is its versatility.

When shopping for watercress, look for healthy, green leaves and sniff for a fresh, spicy scent. Because watercress grows in water, it should be washed thoroughly, to remove any pollutants, parasites, or other impurities. For optimum freshness, watercress can be submerged in water and stored in the refrigerator for two to three days. Before eating, rinse again and separate the leaves from the fibers and roots.

Watercress is available all year round but is at its best from April which is just around the corner, to October. Watercress leaves and stems are at their peak flavour in the spring. Over the summer, the watercress trimmed back in spring will put on new growth. Once the weather cools in the fall, the plant can be harvested again.

See more on EarthaCooks.com

You might also enjoy the post “Cooking Green Goodness: Baked Sweet Potato, Shrimp and Avocado Toasts” where I ask the question “is it safe to eat butter again?” Click HERE to read on.

53 thoughts on “A Spotlight On Herbs: Chicken Roasted with Watercress Butter

  1. Pingback: A Spotlight On Herbs: Chicken Roasted with Watercress Butter — Eartha Cooks | Eat BCS

    • Thank you Suzanne. I appreciate that coming from you. It’s my love for food that started all this. I’m learning that there’s so much to food and hope to take things in a direction that will inspire. Thanks for checking out the post.


    • Hi, you guys! I’m glad you like the post. Anything butter on soft bread is a weakness. It’s only fitting to also enjoy it on chicken. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by. xx


    • That’s awesome! What’s one of your favourite to make?
      Glad to hear you’ll try the watercress butter! I had it on bread as well and loved it.
      Please keep me posted on how it works out. Appreciate you checking out the post. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My sweet JESUS! When can I get an invite Eartha? Seriously, I got some blank spots on my calendar this summer! LOL!!!
    That all looks so yummy and fantastic! Your friends and family are LUCKY!!!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

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