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Roast Chicken without Lemons and Garlic?

I am new to roasting a whole chicken do to my aversion of whole animal parts... but I am trying.

So, I have trieds several recipes from Barefoot Contessa, Cooks Illustrated, and Zuni Cafe. It seems like most of them say to stuff the chicken with lemon and garlic, but dose that really do anything for the flavor or is it just to to make it smell good?

The reason I ask, is the Zuni Cafe recipe dose not stuff. They use a dry brine and very hot cooking method. By far it was the most flavorful and jucy of them all. I made a compound butter of lemon zest, minced garlic, onion powder, and rosemary which I stuffed under the skin. Way more flavor then the other two.

So I was wondering, am I just wasting good garlic and lemons stuffing them on the inside of the chicken? I think Cook's illustrated allueded to that too. Where I live, lemons are $1.00 each!

What do you guys think?

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  1. I'm yet to try the Zuni roast chicken, though I've been urged to many a time. I make my chicken by chucking half a leek, half a small onion, a small carrot, a stick of celery and a couple of cloves of garlic into the thermomix (or food processor, whatever you have) until it's all combined. I sautee this mix in a stack of butter of medium heat until soft and then throw in some finely diced chorizo and fresh thyme. After a few more minutes I use this mix to stuff the chicken, then I massage the skin with some olive oil, season with maldon salt, fresh black pepper and some smoked paprika. Roast at 180 degrees celsius (about 355F) until done - depends on the size of your chicken. It is yet to fail me.

    1. I would guess that it depends on the form of the lemons and garlic (crushed vs whole cloves, for example) and how long you're roasting. Smaller pieces will release their flavour faster, and longer cooking will give the flavour more time to seep in.

      But yeah, I think you're on the right track. Crushing up your flavourings and putting them under the skin is going to get you more bang for your buck.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

        I do both - rub butter mixed with (lemon) thyme and salt and pepper under the skin, with a bit left over to baste during cooking and stuff a lemon, which has been pricked a few times, a few cloves of garlic and a few sprigs of thyme inside. It does seem to permeate through the chicken and adds a nice flavour for the gravy.

      2. Maybe instead of using something inside the chicken, which you won't eat, you could try roasting it on top of a bed of vegetables. I've always liked onions, carrots, and thyme.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Jay F

          When roasting anything I always add onions, garlic, carrots (and if I have it, celery) to the pan which adds great flavour to the gravy. When you pull out the meat for resting, mash up the veges left with some cornflour and simmer down for a rich, thick gravy.

          1. re: pj26

            I use enough that I'm able to eat them with the chicken.

            1. re: Jay F

              I actually cook mine separately as I mash up the one's in the chicken/meat pan with all the juices.

              1. re: pj26

                I cook potatoes separately. I like the flavor the chicken, onions, carrots and thyme give each other.

        2. Mate, now that you've started roasting chickens, the odds are that you'll roast hundreds, if not thousands, over the course of your lifetime. Why? It's the absolute simplest no-brain meal you can possibly think of and is ridiculously difficult to screw up. So since you're going to try hundreds (if not thousands), just experiment. Try it with a lemon, without a lemon, with garlic, without garlic, seasoning over the skin, seasoning under the skin, whatever.

          From my experience, at the end of the day, there's really very few techniques that will make a serious difference. The only significant change to my recipe involves spatchcocking the bird and then putting it on my big green egg to roast over direct flame. Between the charcoal and the convection heating, every chicken I now make comes off like the best rotisserie chicken you could possibly hope for. But really, you can't go wrong with just bunging it into the oven with a few herbs and spices.

          1. I personally have never gained much flavor from what was stuffed inside the cavity of a bird that was roasted. Better to but some flavor ingredients under the skin so it has more contact with the flesh.