One of my wife’s favorite Sunday dinners is roast chicken, and as I’m quite fond of them too, I’m probably roasting a bird a least one a month. I think roasting them whole is the best way to highlight the natural flavor of chicken, but also enables you to add little twists through the addition of herbs, spices, vegetables and other ingredients. In this version, I make a rosemary lemon chicken, which flavors the bird from the inside while it cooks, but is also highlighted in the pan sauce that we make. In this version, I go one step further on the favor path with the addition of bacon…and who doesn’t love bacon????
LEMON ROSEMARY Roast CHICKEN RECIPE
Ingredients for Lemon Rosemary Chicken
- 1 whole roasting chicken (about 5 – 8 lbs)
- 3 – 5 sprigs of rosemary
- 2 lemons
- 4 strips of bacon
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1 onion chopped into quarters
- 4 - 5 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon of flour
Recipe Overview & Keys to Success
Roasting a whole chicken (or really anything whole) is one of the more intimidating things for the amateur chef. The big issue is generally doneness, but there are a couple others; just make sure you do the following and you’ll be fine.
- Buy and use a meat thermometer; it really is the best way to tell if the chicken is cooked. I place mine deep inside the breast meat and just leave it in while it cooks (make sure yours is oven proof if you do) until it reads about 165.
- Use high heat to cook the chicken. I don’t like using 350 degrees; I think it’s slow, and the skin doesn’t render like I like it. I cook my birds at 380 to 400 degrees.
- I like to brine my chicken. You don’t need to, and I don’t every time, but I do think they come out better.
Roasting the Chicken
- Clean the chicken by removing it from the bag, and discard the innards (there are lots of great things to do with them, but that’s a different recipe)
- If you are going to brine the bird, do so about 5 hours ahead of time, and then proceed as below
- Dry the chicken off with paper towels, and allow it to come up to room temperature
- Stuff the inside of the chicken with most of the rosemary, and one lemon which you’ve cut into wedges
- Coast the skin with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper; and a bit of the remaining rosemary, finely chopped
- Cut the bacon strips in half, and drape them over the chicken breast, as I do in the video (if needed you can hold the bacon down with toothpicks)
- I like to start my chicken cooking on the stove top in a hot pan, with high sides to retain the drippings. That gets the underside nicely rendered, but you can start it directly in the oven; above about 5 minutes on the stove top
- Add the onion and the garlic cloves to the bottom of the pan
- Put the chicken into in a pre-heated 400 degree oven
- Check back in about 30 minutes, and the bacon should be essentially rendered out; remove the bacon and set aside (you can use the bacon for another dish – tossed with asparagus would be an awesome side)
- Return the chicken to the oven, insert the meat thermometer, and cook for about another 45 minutes to an hour, or until the temp reads about 165
- Remove the chicken from the oven, and move the bird to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes; leave the thermometer in
Making the sauce
- While the chicken rests, discard the onion, and set aside (but retain the garlic), separate out the rendered fat from the juice/drippings
- Heat the pan over medium heat and add back about a tablespoon of the fat, along with the flour, to form a loose roux
- Allow the roux to cook for a couple minutes, stirring frequently
- Add to the roux the pan drippings (separated from the fat) from the chicken to make a sauce
- If you'd like you can split open the garlic cloves and squeeze out the now roasted garlic into the sauce
- The pan drippings may not be enough liquid, so add in the chicken stock as needed
- Add a squeeze of lemon juice, and another teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary
- Continue to reduce until the sauce is at the right consistency; you can always thin it out with a bit more stock or water if needed
Carve up the chicken and spoon a bit of sauce over the top, and you’re good to go. Served with a nice green vegetable and some potatoes, you’ve got one of the best meals around. Enjoy!!