Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lemon-herb roast chicken

This recipe makes a really nice roast chicken. I came up with it after trying a few variations from online sources. Underneath a crackling skin, the meat is succulent and nicely enhanced by the flavours of lemon and fresh herbs. If you plan to make it while you're hanging around at home anyway with housework, the long cooking time will fly by. If you want save even more time, as I did, double the quantity and cook two birds at once. You can use leftovers in soup, sandwiches, wraps, salads, stirfrys or casseroles.

To make seasonings for chicken:
Set out 1/4 cup unsalted butter to soften slightly at room temperature. Finely chop 1/4 cup of whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. I used thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano. Grate the rind of one lemon, then cut in half and set aside. Mash the herbs and lemon rind with the butter. Cut one head of garlic in half horizontally. Peel and cut one small white onion in half.

To prepare chickens:
Preheat oven to 350F. Remove any giblets from two whole chickens, then rinse inside and out with cool water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken cavities with juice from the lemon halves, dried Italian herb seasoning, salt and pepper. Then insert 1/2 onion, 1/2 head of garlic and 1/2 lemon in each cavity. Truss the chickens. If you bought your chickens trussed, unhook the drumsticks from the string to access the cavity.

Cut a small slit between the chicken thigh and breastbone and use fingers to gently loosen skin from the meat. Spread herb butter mixture under the skin.

To cook chicken:
Place chickens in a large roasting pan fitted with a wire rack. Surround chicken with baby potatoes and vegetables, tossed in a small amount of olive oil (I didn't have space for my vegetables and roasted them in another dish). Roast without a lid for 1 to 1-1/2 hrs depending on the size of your birds and your oven. Baste chicken with pan juices every 20 minutes. The chicken is done when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165F. 

To prepare gravy (optional):
When cooking is complete, remove chickens and potatoes from roasting pan, tent chickens with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. If your roasting pan is safe for stovetop use, bring pan juices sprinkled with flour to a boil over high heat, scraping browned bits with a wooden spoon. Otherwise, transfer juices to a saucepan. Once pan juices are boiling, add 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup white wine. Reduce heat and simmer for several minutes to concentrate flavours and thicken. Add 3T butter and season to taste.


  1. Kat, you need a cooking show. This presentation is beautiful. Magazine worthy. I love roasted potatoes too. Thanks for droppin by. I am going to add you to my blog roll. dawn suitcase vignettes xo

  2. katie_quarterman27 July 2012 at 14:07

    Your chicken looks lovely in the photos!
    I really like roasting chickens, theyre easy and you can do so many different seasoning and afterwards there so much you can do with it! I roast a chick once a week, then use the leftovers for salads, sandwhichs and make chicken noddle soup. They're so great for streaching a food budget.
    Mmmm, those potatos look yuumy!


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