September 03, 2011

Roast Lemon Chicken with Potatoes

It's still a little warm to be doing a lot of roasting, but sometimes nothing hits the spot like a roasted chicken.  The recipe below is a pretty basic one.  It reliably gives you a flavorful, juicy roasted chicken and delicious potatoes seasoned with parsley and pan juices, all with a minimum of effort.

Roast Lemon Chicken with Potatoes

3             whole fresh lemons
5             tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1             cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
2             scallions, finely chopped
2             tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
5             teaspoons minced garlic
1             whole (5-pound) chicken
2             teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 1/2       teaspoons freshly-ground black pepper
2             pounds small red potatoes, cut lengthwise into quarters
1             cup chopped fresh parsley
2             tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with the rack at middle position. 

Using a grater, finely zest the lemons into a small bowl.  Add softened butter, basil, scallions, dill and garlic.  Mix thoroughly.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry thoroughly, inside and out.  From the edge of the cavity, slip a finger under the skin of each breast, then gently loosen the skin from the meat of the breasts and thighs.  Using your hands, gently push the butter mixture into the spaces between the chicken skin and the meat of the breast and thighs.  As you work the mixture in, rub your hand over the outside of the skin to smooth out the butter mixture and push it down further between the skin and meat. 

Season the outside of the chicken thoroughly with  1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Cut two of the zested lemons into quarters and loosely stuff the chicken cavity with the lemon quarters.  Do not over-stuff; you may not use all of the lemon quarters; discard any extra.  Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen string.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat.  Cut the third zested lemon into quarters and set aside. 

Spray a roasting rack with nonstick cooking spray and set it in a roasting pan.  Arrange the potato mixture evenly on the bottom of the roasting pan.  Place the chicken on the roasting rack breast-side up. 

Roast the chicken for 20 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven, turn the chicken breast-side down and roast another 20 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and turn the chicken breast-side up again.  Sprinkle the parsley over the potatoes; stir to coat the parsley and potatoes with pan drippings.  Squeeze the reserved lemon wedges over the chicken, then place the lemon rinds in the roasting pan.   Continue to roast until the chicken juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a fork (about 30 minutes more).

Remove the pan from the oven and let the chicken rest in the pan 15 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a cutting board.  Let the chicken rest for another few minutes, then cut it into pieces to serve.  Spoon the pan juices over the chicken pieces, then serve with the potatoes. 

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