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My Own Perfect Roast Chicken


Given another roast chicken came out beautifully this week – and given the ease! – I figured I would dive into the eternal Roast Chicken debate and throw out my own recipe, cribbed from a variety of places. As capeanne wrote below in her chicken post, never a scrap left.

First let me say I just love a great roast chicken. When done right, there are few things better in the world. Over the years, in a personal quest for the perfect roast chicken, I have tried just about every method there is … brining, slow cooking at low temps, turning the chicken on its side then on its breast during the roasting time in the oven, searing it first, etc, etc. Each way has its pros and cons, each way taught me something. I’ve finally come to the conclusion, however, now proven out many times, that there is a simple, easy way to make a perfect roast chicken that doesn’t involve a ton of drama. The only real work with my method comes from making your own preserved lemons (recipe included below). But even preserving your own lemons is extremely easy, and once you have a container of preserved lemons in your fridge, you can have this roast chicken any day of the week. (You’ll also then have these lemons for months, to use in a variety of ways. I am never without them anymore, they are so terrific and so versatile.)

Here then is my method, which stems in a large part from Barbara Kafka’s book ROASTING, a book I highly, highly recommend.

Notes: I don’t brine. Sure, it might make it even better. But this chicken is already so terrific, it just doesn’t seem worth the effort. And a highlight of this recipe is ease. If you have the time to season the chicken a few hours before you cook it, excellent. But if you are in a rush and must season it then immediately put it in the oven, it will still turn out well. I don’t have set amounts of seasonings and vegetables because I never do it exactly the same, which is another reason this recipe is so easy. Just have fun with it. When you make it this way, taste your preserved lemons to see how salty they are. Each batch comes out a little differently. If they are a batch that has a lot of salt to the taste, you won’t need to add much salt, if any, to the chicken.

Also, I always roast my chicken with vegetables. Potatoes, carrots and onions in the roasting pan are wonderful with the butter and chicken fat and herbs. You can certainly roast it alone, though; the recipe remains the same.

1 large chicken (the higher quality, the better)
Preserved Lemons
1 onion
4 - 6 cloves of garlic, both chopped and whole
herbs (I use thyme and sage)
salt and pepper

2 potatoes, cut in large pieces
3 carrots, cut in 2 inch pieces or 12-14 smaller carrots, whole
2 yellow onions, peeled and cut into quarters or about 10 cipollini onions

Season the chicken:

(I’ve made these directions lengthy, to make sure they are clear. But this takes about 5 minutes tops if all the ingredients are ready)

Rinse the chicken inside and out with water, then pat dry. Liberally pepper the inside of the chicken, the rub the inside of the chicken with a lot of the ‘goop’ from your preserved lemons. Then add to the chicken cavity: 1 onion quartered, 2 or 3 slices of the preserved lemon, 2 or 3 whole cloves of garlic, a few sprigs of Thyme and Sage or whatever herb you choose to use.

Place the chicken on a platter if you have time to let it sit after you season it. If not, go ahead and put it in the roasting pan. (I like to use a large cast iron skillet. I have an enormous one that works wonderfully, but a regular roasting pan is fine.) Work your fingers underneath the breast skin, taking care not to tear the skin. You just want to gently pull the skin away from the breast meat. As you do so, work your fingers down the sides of the breast as well. When the skin has pulled away, take more ‘goop’ from the preserved lemons and rub it underneath the skin, onto the meat. Then add chopped garlic and thyme leaves. Bring your fingers out and massage the skin from the top, spreading the lemon and garlic and thyme all around, under the skin, massaging the skin back into place.

Take more of the ‘goop’ from the preserved lemons and rub it all over the chicken. Liberally sprinkle pepper all over the chicken, then sprinkle thyme leaves, chopped sage (or herb of choice) and little dots of butter all over the chicken. At this point, you can put the chicken in the fridge to sit for a couple of hours, making sure to remove it about an hour before you cook it, so it is at room temperature when you put it in the oven. Or, you can go ahead and cook it right away. Scatter the chopped vegetables all around the chicken in the pan right before you put it in the oven, adding salt, pepper, herbs and dots of butter to the veggies as well.

Cooking the chicken:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Your cooking time is based on weight, about 10 minutes per pound. I cooked a 4-pounder last night. I left it in the over for 40 minutes, then let it sit out of the oven for about ten more minutes, and it was perfect. Just base the time on the chicken weight. In a 500 degree oven, with ten minutes per pound and ten minutes to sit after you pull it out of the oven, it comes out exactly right every time. The only time you even need to open the oven is if you want to turn the veggies, so they get a little crispy. But you can also just stick it in the oven, close the door, turn on the timer and not worry about it. No turning the chicken side to side, no changing the temperature up and down… it is so easy and so, so good. With a green salad and some bread on the side, it’s an incredible, easy meal.

PRESERVED LEMONS (I always double this recipe, I use them so much.)

2 lemons, preferably organic
1/3 cup Coarse Sea Salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
About 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Scrub the lemons and dry them well. Cut each lemon lengthwise into 8 wedges. In a bowl, toss the lemon wedges, salt and lemon juice to coat the fruit. Transfer to a 2-cup glass container with a non-metal lid. Close the container tightly and let the lemons ripen at room temperature for 7 days. She the container daily to evenly distribute the salt and juices. To store, add olive oil to cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

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  1. Wow- sounds easy. But- is there a lot of smoke due to the high temp- and does the oven get all splattered? I am going to make some preserved lemons tomorrow, and will try the roast chicken next week. Wish i had seen this last week- it is chilly and rainy today- a great day for a roasted chicken dinner. Thanks

    7 Replies
    1. re: macca

      I have never had a problem with smoke, though I will add my oven has a good vent. I cook so much in my oven, it is always a mess (grin). I don't know how much the roast chicken contributes to it.

      I am glad you are trying the lemons. If you still want a roast chicken tonight, just follow this recipe but use melted butter (a lot!) in place of the preserved lemons, adding a couple of lemons quartered in the cavity and a little lemon juice on the outside of the chicken. It will still be very good. And then try it again once your preserved lemons are ready.

      1. re: Tom P

        Nope- I am waiting til next week with the preserved lemons- sounds so good I want to use your recipe! i have a cast iron skillet that is large enough, too. Will line the bottom with potatoes as CHamseter suggests, too.

        1. re: macca

          Let us know how it goes. And doing the potatoes CHamseter's way sounds great. I'dd add some onions on top, maybe, quartered, they turn out so good.

        2. re: Tom P

          Wow - what a great recipe! Worth noting I used a bird from the farmers market that had been walking around the day before, but the meat was so moist and tender and tasty prepared this way.

          I didn't have preserved lemons on hand, so I followed your advice and stuffed a few whole ones inside and added a bit of juice on the outside. Aside from that, I used about 2-3 tbsp of unsalted butter in the cavity and under the skin. Massaged (gross, right?) chopped garlic, dried thyme, and the butter under the skin, and topped the whole thing off with a healthy sprinkle of salt.

          I was nervous about cooking the bird at such high heat, but when it was done it was brown and crispy and AMAZING. (And so easy.) Thanks for sharing your recipe!

          1. re: squishface

            hey! I am so glad it worked and you enjoyed it! It has been a couple of months since I've done this, actually... I am going to have to make it again this week.

          2. re: Tom P

            I always have some smoking with this method - I get the fan out and open a few windows - no problem. Would always take the smoke for the results...!

          3. re: macca

            Yes you do get a lot of smoke roasting BK's way, but the results are worth it.

            Just slice up a potato or two very thinly and line the bottom of the roasting pan with the slices -- they will absorb the grease and prevent it from burning

          4. One question, when you say "goop" are you talking about the pulp? Or the oil or what? I happen to have a jar of preserved lemons in the fridge....

            2 Replies
            1. re: prunefeet

              'Goop' ... for me, when I do the preserved lemons, the lemon slices stay relatively whole. By the goop, I mean everything else, the liquid/oil that is quite thick that surrounds the lemon slices. That is what I slide under the skin and then slather all over the outside.

              Let me know if I need to make more sense!

              1. re: Tom P

                Yes it does, thanks! The ones I have right now are not that coopy, which is why I didn't get it. Sounds so good.

            2. Thanks for your post! I have a couple of jars of salted Meyers and I was wondering how to use them in something simple. I'm now looking forward even more to my next roast chicken!

              The one pointer I can offer in return is that ever since I started using a vertical roaster, my chickens have cooked very evenly. The color is uniform all around the bird, and it is a joy to have deliciously moist white meat and dark meat cooked through at the same time. I usually cook at 450F for 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of the bird.

              2 Replies
              1. re: pilinut

                I will have to try a vertical roaster, then! I'll try about anything to get an even better roast chicken. A couple of stupid questions... when using one, what happens to the stuff in the cavity, how does it stay in? And do you still get a good amount of juice/gravy drippings? Can you roast vegetables when you use one?

                1. re: Tom P

                  It isn't as easy to keep stuff in the cavity, but I try. First, I season the chicken a bit more, on the assumption that some of the seasoning will drip off. Then I insert the shell of a lemon half (I usually rub the juice into the chicken and will try it with your salted lemons next!) at the top of the vertical roaster so that the chicken sits higher on the roaster, and so the lemon imparts some of its aroma. I try to keep whatever fresh herbs I am using in the chicken cavity while I insert the roaster, and whatever falls out--well, falls out. Unless the point of the roast chicken is the stuffing, e.g., 40-cloves-of-garlic, or relleno, I honestly don't think I lose anything with vertical roasting.

                  Note: I like to season the inside of my chickens with a paste made of salt, peppercorns, garlic, and herbs. (Will have to try your lemon goop and onion mixed in with that: sounds very promising,) So only the additional herb branches sometimes fall out, Some of the seasoning does come with the drippings, so adjust the seasoning for your veggies to account for this.

                  I usually roast my veggies separately, just because I find it easier to time their cooking that way. And to get more drippings for gravy, I usually add a bit of water and/or white wine to the bottom of the roaster once the drippings start to sizzle.

                  Oh, yes, the other reason I like the chicken to sit a little higher on the vertical roaster is that I don't want the leg squashed against the back of the thigh: I think it makes for better heat distribution. It's fine if the leg is bent and the drumstick touches the pan, but I like to be able to check for done-ness by wiggling the leg a bit. (How do you check?)

                  I hope this helps. Do let me know how it works for you, and if you have any suggestions!

              2. I have a lot of success with spatchcocking.

                1. i came up with something similar - which i got from watching my dad make peking duck by inserting a pump needle to separate the skin from the meat so the skin would crisp up.

                  after patting the skin dry, i separate the skin from the meat but i place sliced onion and depending on my mood some mixture and garlic and rosemary.inside the skin, then rub a light coating of olive oil on the skin with a little salt & pepper.

                  i use a vertical roaster, so i also cut a few slits near the bottom of the bird to let the excess fat drain out.

                  total cooking time of 1 hour, first 10 minutes at 500, remainder at 375 - when i add potatos scrubbed and sliced lengthwise into sixths, light spray coating of olive oil and then seasoning salt - which i do during the ten minutes at 500.

                  the onions come out incredibly sweet.

                  1. I 'm very anxious to try this! Will make the preserved lemons this weekend and roast a chicken next weekend. I'm wondering....what other recipes do you make with preserved lemons? Thank you, Tom P!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: cookingschool

                      Sorry to take so long to reply! Let me know how your chicken turned out.

                      I use the 'goop' all the time... in marinades (currently, I am marinating boneless chicken breasts in the goop, fresh thyme and rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper and a little olive oil to grill out tomorrow); in salad dressings, in place of lemon juice; you can make a nice lemon garlic mayo if you mix the goop, minced garlic, salt and pepper with Hellman’s/Best Foods (or make your own aioli with it) – use it in basically any savory dish that calls for lemon juice.

                      My favorite way to use the actual lemons themselves is in a vegetable couscous I make. Make your couscous (I usually use chicken broth for flavor, and add seasoning to the pot before it cooks, such as cumin or herbs de provence) then cool the couscous. In the meantime, chop a couple of slices of the lemon fine; also chop additional veggies: carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes halved, or any additional vegetables you like. I like them raw but you could steam them if you like. Toss everything together with a little olive oil and additional seasonings: salt and pepper for sure, perhaps paprika or others. You can also make a quick vinaigrette with olive oil, red or white wine vinegar, a little course ground mustard and the seasonings for a vinaigrette with which to toss it all. It is fresh, good for you and tastes great.

                      1. re: Tom P

                        Tom P.....I just wanted to let you know the roast chicken was wonderful! I made the preserved lemons back in June and I've been using them as you suggested....in couscous and also in a pasta/linguine dish I like to make. They're fabulous! But, I just got around to the roast chicken yesterday. We've spent the summer grilling out, so I just didn't do the roast chicken. Anyway, I did it yesterday, using up the rest of my preserved lemons, and it was soooo good! This will be my way of doing roast chicken from now on! Making up another batch of preserved lemons, now, and I never intend to be without them! Thank you so much for the recipes. Hope you see this!

                        1. re: cookingschool

                          hey! I am so glad you liked it! Can you tell me about the pasta dish you do? I'd love to try it.

                          1. re: Tom P

                            Of course! But it's pretty basic. I just saute boneless/skinless chicken breasts in olive oil and butter. Remove the chicken when done and slice or chunk up. Deglaze the now empty pan with some chicken broth and a little vermouth or white wine. Add preserved lemon "goop", a chopped preserved lemon wedge, a jar of marinated artichokes, and black olives. Add chicken back to pan and simmer until reduced and chicken is cooked throughly. Toss in some cooked linguine, or serve over a bed of linguine.

                            I'm always looking for ways to use the preserved lemons. My first batch was a little salty, so I used them sparingly. Thanks again for the recipes and the ideas as to how to use the lemons!

                            1. re: cookingschool

                              Oh wow. That sounds incredible. It will probably be a couple of weeks before I try, as I am traveling, but I will let you know when I try it. Thanks so much.

                    2. Tom P- Sorry I mwant to post back. I did try your chicken- I roasted the chicken on a bed of fennel and onions. I used my large cast iron pan. SO good- But- I will say, my smoke alrms came on while it roasted!! But I guess I should have cleaned the oven before I tried this. I did clean it after. The chicken was perfectly cooked- so moist with a wonderfuel crispy skin. Love the preserved lemons. Will have to find more recipes using them. Thanks again- nothing better than a perfectly roasted chicken.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: macca

                        I am so glad it worked well, albeit with smoke alarms. The fennel sounds amazing, I am going to try it with fennel next time.

                        1. re: Tom P

                          Love the sound of the lemon garlic mayo.I think it would me good with cold grilled chicken salad.

                      2. So I finally tried this last night to have roasted chicken during halftime. Only problem was that I bought preserved lemons from a middle Eastern store and couldn't open the jar--my husband was on the phone and tried briefly but was unsuccessful. (I have no idea--this is the first jar that one of us couldn't open!) So I proceeded as instructed with fresh thyme, sage, butter and stuffed with the fresh herbs and an onion all resting on fingerlings halved lengthwise, carrots and celery. It was unbelievable--the high temperature really makes such a difference and my smoke alarm didn't go off once.

                        1 Reply
                        1. I've been wanting to try this chicken since you posted it but I haven't had the chance until today. It was so amazing: thank you for the recipe. I made the preserved lemons a while back and they've been sitting in the back of my fridge for quite a while. I followed your method exactly using a cornish game hen and rosemary and thyme instead of the sage as that was all I had. The chicken was really juicy and moist with your cooking time and the flavor was amazing: it was slightly lemony and perfectly seasoned without any added salt except from the lemon goop. The rosemary really did it for me and it went so well with the garlic and the delicious lemon goop. And it cooked up in 20 minutes- so great. My only problem was that the skin was crispy for only 5 minutes and suddenly it sogged up real fast- next time I'll probably just peel of the delicious skin and eat it while I'm letting the juices redistribute. Also, the browning was a bit uneven so the bird wasn't "beautiful" but I really don't care about looks. But thanks for such a delicious and really easy recipe. I don't know why I waited so long to try it but I'm keeping this technique.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: digkv

                            hey! I am so glad you enjoyed it. I have not thought much about the skin because I tend to eat it right off the chicken before carving it - so good. I wonder if a little butter added to the goop might make it crisp better or hold the crisp longer? I have no idea but a little butter certainly could not hurt. Thanks for letting me know how it turned out and I am glad you liked it so much.

                          2. I'm preserving some lemons now (can't wait to try this recipe) and the salt/juice doesn't seem very "goopy" after a week. Do I need to add the olive oil and refrigerate to get good goop?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: ajs228

                              Im trying to preserve some lemons for this roasted chicken that im going to do next week for new year. My question is, how do I know if the lemon preserved is ready to use? You said it needs about 7days, can I start using it lets say, 6days?

                              About roasting chicken, my oven has the option to turn the heat from above and below. Should I turn both of them at 500 degrees or just the top?

                              1. re: Dark Wanderer

                                When I made it the preserved lemons didn't get "goopy" until I added the olive oil and let the jar sit in the fridge for a few days. Just the salt and lemon juice did not have the consistency.

                                1. re: Dark Wanderer

                                  You would probably be fine at 6 days if that is the schedule you are on. And I agree with ajs228 that the olive oil makes a difference in the 'goop'. Just toss it a few times each day (or even once, no need to worry about it) and add the olive oil at 6 or 7 days. They last forever in the fridge, I use them in everything.

                                  I am not sure about the oven, perhaps someone who knows more about it can say. My inclination would be to heat from top and bottom, but I can't say for sure.

                                  I hope it works well for you! Let us know.

                                  1. re: Tom P

                                    Well I do have this oven with rotisserie on it, im just worried that my chicken will be burnt if I turn both heat up at 500 degrees (top and bottom). So what about the others? Did they just use the heat from above?

                              2. Tom P

                                What is it with guys and perfect roast chicken? Jfood spent last winter doing his experiement and this past summer converting to the gas grill. There is just something about a good roast chicken that washes the day away and makes a great start to the evening.

                                Jfood agrees with almost everything you state and your theory is spot on. High heat, skin away from meat and 40 minutes. And, like you, he alters the flavors by the mood.

                                What jfood does is use a 425 oven because the smoke factor above caused some issues with others in the family. Smoke in the kitchen was a bad event. So he does the skin away, herbs under skin, vertically into a 425 oven, sets the timer for 40 minutes and uses the time in another part of the kitchen.

                                Now you need to convert to the outside grill to get some outstanding BBQ-Roated chicken. Man that's heaven as well.

                                1. Anybody know how long you can keep preserved lemons? I have a tee and make them every year, but I don't use them as often as I'd like. I have some that are probably a year or older. Pretty "goopy".....

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                                    True confessions time. I have some home preserved lemons that are soon going to hit the 3-year mark, and I'm still using them. I preserved another batch several weeks ago, and I can see the difference in the color. I also suspect that the old batch, while still perfectly edible, no longer has the sprightliness of not-so-old lemons.

                                  2. The best vertical lemon chicken I made was stuffed with fresh lemon verbena leaves in the cavity and under the skin. It gave a much stronger lemon flavor to the poultry and the resulting chicken stock. But of course one has to plant and harvest lemon verbena in order to do that, which will take more time than purchasing lemons and preserving them!

                                    1. I'm wondering what is meant by "the higher quality, the better". Actually I know what the poster is suggesting, but I want to hear what he has to say (even though this is an old, old post).

                                      Also, shouldn't chicken and all meat be cooked according to temperature? A good cook will merely use time per pound as a rough guide and let a thermometer give them the final answer.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Shaw Oliver

                                        Shaw - I just meant the best chicken you can find. People have different opinions about that, whether organic or local is better, what the chicken was raised eating, etc. I'll say this: The chickens I get at Costco and roast taste really good. Sometimes even better than an organic chicken I pick up at Whole Foods. I tend to look for a nice sized, plump chicken. Trader Joe's also has some really nice roasters.

                                        1. re: Shaw Oliver

                                          Also, for a long time I never used a temp gauge. Not sure why... I guess because I did not have one! But I tend to use them now. I find just cutting into the chicken (or whatever meat I am roasting) tells me a lot, but I know some people do not want to disturb the look of the meat. The most important thing I've learned with any roasting is taking it out before it is done since it will continue to cook for ten minutes or so while it rests. I've overcooked enough birds and roasts to know I'd rather stick it back in for a few minutes if need be than kill it.

                                          1. re: Tom P

                                            In terms of what chickens are "higher quality", I'll say this: your standard mega mart/big box Cornish X (pronounced Cornish cross) is the lowest on the totem pole in terms of flavor. The unfortunate thing is that most people don't even realize this because the Cornish X is the only thing available in most markets. It's not the consumer's fault - blame the industry. I suggest seeking out some different breeds - yes breeds - and comparing them, especially side by side. Poulet Rouge anyone?

                                            Cutting into a roasting chicken isn't the end of the world in terms of looks, I'm not that picky, but I do find a thermometer a much better tool. Pink color means nothing it doesn't mean it isn't cooked safely and properly. There is a reason that nearly all of the Western world has developed tricks and techniques for making poultry moist. (brining, salting, stuffing with butter, etc.) Cooking to the proper temperature can obviously help eliminate overcooking and dryness.

                                            Cooking time can and will vary depending on a number of factors including actual oven temperature (you do have a thermometer in your oven don't you?) vegetables added to the pan, type of pan you are cooking in, whether or not you are using a roasting rack, the temperature of the chicken when it goes into the oven (has it been sitting out for 30 minutes while you prep or has it come directly out of the fridge?) ... I can go on and on.

                                            Taking the bird out before the final temperature has been reached is an important point. Again, time is not really the answer here, you should expect the bird to rise an additional 10 to 15 degrees once it comes out of the oven. Now that poultry is supposed to be cooked to 165 (that's right not 180 - read up on your USDA guidelines folks) that means taking the chicken out of the oven when it reaches about 155.


                                        2. Wow, I'm only discovering this recipe for the first time and I've simply got to try it. I make what I call "lemon chicken" in a crockpot and it's excellent--but not really impressive to serve for guests since it simply falls apart when you try to remove it from the crockpot. Taste is great, presentation not so much.

                                          Since almost all my cooking experience is with the crockpot and I only just this past Thanksgiving finally bought a roasting pan, my one question for you is: Do I use the rack or put the chicken directly on the bottom of the pan? Since I don't really care for the flavor carrots give to a roast cooked with them, I'd probably prefer to have the chicken above the veggies--but I'd rather try it your way first, whatever way that might be.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Birmingham

                                            Birmingham - Please give it a try and tell me what you think! And I would love your lemon chicken recipe as well!

                                            I used to use a rack but now I just put the chicken on top of the onions, potatoes etc. It serves the same purpose and really helps flavor the vegetables. If you don't like carrots, no problem. Just use onions and potatoes. Or only onions. You can make a really nice gravy or just use the juice from the pan when the chicken is done (I tend to like the juices straight, without making a gravy). Pouring a little white wine in the pan before you start is great as well.

                                            1. re: Tom P

                                              Okay, I'll give it a try--leaving out the carrots.

                                              My lemon crockpot chicken is simply to take a nice plump chicken--as large as I can get and still fit it in my crockpot, wash and dry, stuff onion, garlic, thyme in the cavity then slather it with olive oil, put it in the crockpot then squeeze some lemon juice over it, sprinkle it with salt, pepper, paprika, then put thyme wherever I can--usually sticking it under the skin all over (making little slices in the skin if I have to). Then I slice up a lemon or two and place the lemons all over. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Smells wonderful.

                                              My favorite way to serve is with jasmine rice, green beans with almonds, hummus and pita. My all-time favorite dinner. But since, as I said, it doesn't make a good presentation with the meat falling off the bone, I'd like to try to roast a lemon chicken for guests.

                                              1. re: Birmingham

                                                I cannot wait to try this, who cares what it looks like, it sounds wonderful! Particularly with jasmine rice!

                                          2. A 3 1/2 year running post!! Congratulations, man!! I, too, am gonna try preserving those lemons, and doing your chicken. Will report back.

                                            In the meantime, I picked up this super easy recipe, I think I saw it done on Triple D about a year ago, for chicken oreganato. Dumb simple, with un-fancy ingredients, but I find it delivers a delicious, deep flavor.

                                            Quarter a big roaster, or two smaller birds. Place in roasting pan, single layer, skin up. Squeeze the juice of two lemons over it. Season liberally with S&P, granulated garlic and onion, and dried oregano. Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Leave the squeezed lemons in the pan. Roast at 375 for about an hour and a half, til done.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: woodburner

                                              Thanks, Woodburner. and that sounds terrific. I am going to try it in the next couple of weeks. It reminds me of another very simple (ridiculously simple) chicken recipe at Epicurious I love:


                                              So simple yet it is so so good!

                                            2. Just plop chicken directly into cast iron skillet and put in oven? No rack needed? Bake uncovered? Thanks. Am hapless novice.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Superbadcook

                                                I put the chicken, brushed with olive oil, in a cast iron skillet which has been preheated with the oven to 450. no rack.

                                                1. re: Superbadcook

                                                  Superbad - I promise! Now, you can use potatoes and onions and carrots as a 'rack' ... I often do that. Just toss them with butter and lemon and hebs, arrange them on the bottom of the pan and put the chicken right on top. They work as a rack and soak up all the great juices. But particularly if you use a cast iron pan, you don't need a rack. And don't cover it, as it will steam, not roast.

                                                  let me know if it works for you! Try it!

                                                  1. re: Tom P

                                                    We do this, too, instead of a rack. We also place lemon halves face down to caramelize which can be squeezed onto the roasted chicken. In addition to veg, fresh herbs and lemons we add many garlic cloves which we then use for spreading on grilled bread or the chicken itself.

                                                    My idea of a perfect roast chicken contains either truffle butter smeared under the skin or sliced truffles. Decadent and plain wonderful!

                                                    1. re: Tom P

                                                      Thanks, Tom. I made the preserved lemons . . . Twice. The first time, I put the olive oil in! Aack! So I got off all the oil, rinsed them again, and now they are fermenting, at least I hope. Not much juice to shake around, though. Is that normal?

                                                      Right now my unpreserved lemon chicken is in the fridge. I got very nervous doing the skin massage thing and made a lovely tear. Next time I hope my skills will be better, and I'll have my lemon goop. I will do the potato rack trick, as suggested, using my cast iron skillet, and report back. Cross your fingers, everyone. Thanks for the moral support.

                                                      1. re: Superbadcook

                                                        I usually have about 3/4 juice... meaning about 3/4 up the side of the lemons, it does not have to cover. Add some more if you like, should be ok.

                                                        I tear skin all the time. This is not about it looking like Jean Georges or someone just did it - though the more you do it, it will look better and better :) It will taste good! Fingers crossed!

                                                  2. That goes on the cook this week list! I have owned ROASTING since it came out and it's one of my most-used cookbooks. It's one of my go-to roast chicken recipes, along with the Cafe Zuni one. WILL try this, thanks.

                                                    1. Silly question---do you roast the bird breast side up?