The secret in this herb and lemon roasted chicken is the lemon herb butter. It’s mixed with lemon zest, tons of chopped herbs, and plenty of salt and pepper. You take that flavorful butter and spread it both under the skin and over the whole bird. This recipe roasts the chicken on a beautiful bed of vegetables. The juices and fat slowly render from the chicken and the flavors infuse into the vegetables. The incredibly flavorful juices from cooking can be collected and made into a quick pan sauce.
A 4 to 5-pound chicken is the perfect size for a dinner of 2 with leftovers or can serve up to 4 people. The cavity of the chicken is generously seasoned with salt, pepper, fresh thyme, crushed garlic, and lemon. The citrus will roast the chicken and give a wonderful flavor and aroma to the finished product, plus a delicious pan sauce. Beneath the surface, a compound butter with fresh rosemary is added to enhance the flavor and moistness of the chicken as it roasts. Butter is also applied to the surface of the skin to help with flavor and browning. A benefit of trussing is the help keep the breast moist and reduce the chances of drying out. If the chicken cavity is left exposed, hot air can circulate, cooking the breasts quicker than the thighs.
To truss, tuck the wing tips, then use a 3′ piece of string, centering it around the neck end of the breast, wrap it around the wings, and pull the twine over the chest towards you. Knot the string, pulling it tight to plump the breast of the chicken. Bring the ends of the twine around the ends of the drumsticks then straight up, then tie the string to pull the ends of the drumsticks together, then tie it again to secure the knot. The chicken is first roasted in a hot 475-degree oven for 25 minutes to get the skin browned and crisp. The temperature is then reduced to 400-degrees to finish cooking to an internal temperature of 160 to 180 degrees.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 5 garlic cloves, 1 minced
- 1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary plus 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1/2 teaspoon minced thyme plus 2 thyme sprigs
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- One 4-pound chicken, at room temperature
- 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
- 1 lemon, cut crosswise into 8 rounds
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- Preheat the oven to 425° and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. In a bowl, mix the butter with the minced garlic, minced herbs and the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.
- Pat the chicken dry. Rub half of the herb butter under the skin and the rest over the chicken; season with salt and pepper.
- Set the chicken breast-side-up on a rack in a roasting pan. Scatter the onion, lemon, garlic cloves, and herb sprigs and add 1/2 cup of water.
- Roast for 30 minutes, until the breast, is firm and just beginning to brown in spots. Using tongs, turn the chicken breast-down and roast for 20 minutes longer until the skin is lightly browned.
- Using tongs, turn the chicken breast-side-up. Add another 1/2 cup of water. Roast for about 20 minutes longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh, registers 175° to 180°.
- Tilt the chicken to drain the cavity juices into the pan; transfer the bird to a cutting board. Remove the rack from the pan and spoon off the fat. Set the pan over high heat.
- Add the stock and cook, scraping up any browned bits. Press the lemon to release the juices. Carve the chicken and pass the chunky jus at the table.