This is, to us, the perfect Sunday Dinner, especially since the farmer’s market in our neighborhood is on Sunday and getting fresh chicken broilers at the egg stand makes this even more yummy. It’s pretty simple and very moist, tasty and low maintenance.
You’ll need a circa 4 lb chicken, about 4-5 lemons, some fresh rosemary springs (we use the thicker stems to tie closed the chicken cavities), fresh garlic, butter and salt & pepper. For the veggies, we use potatoes, carrots and onions (sometimes parsnips work well too).
Pre-heat the oven to 375.
Dress the chicken by cutting the lemons into halves and pressing raw garlic cloves, sliced in half lengthwise, pressed into the pulp of the lemon. 2-3 slices of garlic per lemon half. We generally put one “garlic stuffed” lemon half in the neck cavity and then “stitch” the skin over it using a thick rosemary sprig as a “needle.”
Depending on the size of the body cavity, place 3-4 “garlic stuffed” lemon halves, pulp half facing up, in there as well. Over the top of these press in a handful of fresh rosemary springs – near the top. Then pull the skin of the cavity shut and use a thick rosemary sprig, again, to “stitch” the cavity closed.
Melt about 3 Tbs of butter and 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice in a small pot. Add crushed garlic, some salt and pepper and about 2 Tbs chopped, fresh rosemary leaves. Stir over heat until the butter is completely melted.
Get a large roasting pan and put a little olive oil on the bottom. Spread it around with your fingers or a paper towel – just to hit all of the corners. Then place the dressed bird into the center of the pan and put your chopped vegetables all around it – we generally keep them very “chunky;” fingerling potatoes just cut in half, 2-3″ half moon cuts of carrot, 1/8 sections of onion.
Pour the lemon/butter mixture over the bird and over the veggies. If there isn’t enough to cover all, use a little olive oil to augment. Put some salt & pepper on the back of the bird, and over the veggies, then place some further sprigs of rosemary and some crushed, whole garlic cloves on the back of the bird as well. Place some crushed garlic cloves in with the veggies as well (it will help with the gravy later).
Cover the whole package in aluminum foil and put into a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for an hour.
After the first hour, remove the foil and bring the oven heat up to 400 and baste the bird every 15 mins for another 30-45 mins – until the juices run clear when the skin is punctured and the outside of the bird is golden brown.
Once the bird is cooked, remove it from the roasting pan and let is sit, covered, at room temp for about 10-20 mins.
You can serve the veggies as they are, but we often find they are a little greasy so we take the out of the roasting pan with a slotted spoon (save the juices in the chicken pan!) and move them into a new, smaller roasting tin and continue to roast them in the 400 degree oven for another 15 mins or so until they are golden. Just shake them around every couple of minutes to make sure they don’t stick and burn.
Finally, for completeness sake, we make a simple gravy which has been cribbed from Jamie Oliver. You can do this in the original roasting pan on the stovetop, or you can pour juices and any bits of the chicken and veggies which have been left behind into a pan. Try to remove some of the clear fat from the surface after it settles with a spoon.
Place the juices and “bits” on the stove over medium heat and stir in 1 Tbs flour. Don’t worry if it gets lumpy, but stir constantly for about 2 minutes until there’s a good consistency. Crush the “bits” with the back of your spoon, and even add the wings from the chicken itself for more flavor. If some of the crushed garlic cloves stay in the pan for this, even better.
Then add about a cup of red or white wine and let it cook down over medium/high heat – about another 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat and add about 2 cups chicken stock to the mixture and stir for another 3-5 minutes until thickened.
To serve, pour the mixture through a strainer into a gravy boat, slice the chicken onto a serving plate and put the roasted veggies into a serving bowl.
Put gravy on everything and enjoy!