Lemon-Herb Roast Chicken

lemon herb roast chicken

This recipe makes a perfectly seasoned, perfectly moist, perfectly crisp-skinned and golden bird that requires no basting or fussing.

Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 2 hours
Yield: 4 to 6 servings


    1 4-pound chicken
    2 tablespoons butter, softened
    2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
    3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
    2 or 3 fresh herb sprigs (marjoram, thyme, and rosemary are all good choices)
    1 thick slice of lemon
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 onion, sliced thick
    Other vegetables (carrot or celery sticks, fennel slices), optional
    1 cup water


  1. Heat the oven to 450.
  2. Rinse the chicken, pat it dry with paper towels, then rub it all over with the butter. Salt it inside and out, then pop the garlic, herbs, and lemon into its cavity.
  3. Now spread the olive oil in a baking dish, and arrange the onions and any other vegetables you like over the bottom of the dish.
  4. Place the chicken atop the veggies, pour in the water, and roast until it's done: around 1 1/2 hours.
  5. For doneness: I wiggle a leg, and if it seems nice and loose in its socket, I feel confident that the bird is cooked. Other methods include pricking the thigh and looking for clear juice. If your chicken has one of those little buttons that pop up when done, then just wait for it to pop out.
  6. Remove the chicken to a cutting board to rest before carving, remove the veggies to a platter, and evaluate your pan juices. I pour mine into a gravy separator to siphon off the fat, then I use the hand blender to whir them with the lovely browned onions from the pan. This makes a yummy, easy gravy. Another thing would be to make a more traditional gravy by whisking together equal amounts of chicken fat and flour (say 2 tablespoons of each) in a small pot over medium heat, then whisking in the chicken juices along with additional canned broth if you need more liquid. Whisk until thickened and serve with the carved chicken. If I am feeling motivated, I do it that way. Enjoy!

Read more about Catherine making Lemon-Herb Roast Chicken with her family.

See more recipes from Catherine Newman at her "Dalai Mama Dishes" blog.

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