Thursday, October 09, 2008

Roasted Lemon Chicken Revisited

I am so grateful that the universe always manages to correct itself. If you are a reader from back in the day (and I mean, way back in the day), you will remember that I previously failed at making roasted lemon chicken. Pretty miserably.

Thankfully, Meathenge, a meat blogging genius, just happened to chance upon my "failure post" and left a comment, giving me some helpful advice on how to correct my mistakes. Based on his sage suggestions, I was able to remedy my chicken disaster, and since that moment onward, I have made delicious roasted chicken and never looked back. Today, I would love to share the wealth of his great information, especially since I just made roasted chicken yesterday. There are several steps for how to make a great roast chicken.

~ First, preheat your oven to 450 degrees (at 450 degrees, you will cook the chicken for 1 hr; but according to other food blogs, you can also cook the chicken for 1 hr 30 mins at 425 degrees, or 1 hr and 30 minutes at 400 degrees for a chicken that is 3 lbs or less).
~ Next, remove the inner giblets, clumps of excess fat hanging from the meat, and feather remnants. Wash, and thoroughly dry the outside and insides of a whole chicken, using as many paper towels as necessary.
~ Third, liberally season the outside and inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Here, I used a bit of lemon zest, pepper, and garlic salt, and moistened the chicken skin with a little bit of cooking oil.
~ Fourth, place the chicken in a roasting pan on a v-rack or another elevating rack, so that the chicken does not touch the surface of the roasting pan. At this stage, I placed three quartered (or halved) lemons and a bay leaf (really, broken pieces of many bay leaves) into the chicken cavity.
~ Fifth, tuck the chicken wings underneath the body of the chicken, so that the wing tips do not scorch, and tie the chicken drumsticks together with kitchen twine, enclosing the chicken cavity. I did not have any kitchen string, so I omitted the step.
~ Sixth, roast the chicken in the oven for 1 hour, or until the juices of the chicken run clear when punctured with a sharp paring knife. Finally, remove the chicken from the oven, cover the chicken with a foil tent, and let it rest for 10 to 20 minutes, so that the chicken retains its delicious juices.

And the roasted chicken? Well, it turned out perfectly! With a paper thin, translucent, golden brown, and crispy skin. Also, in the meantime, I was able to make mashed potatoes with that 1 full hour on my hands.

For mashed potatoes, I peeled and cubed 5 large russet potatoes, and boiled them in salted water until fork tender. Then, I drained the water, and ran the potatoes through a ricer. I added about 2 tbsp of butter and 1/2 cup of whole milk, and salt to taste. Then, I smashed the riced mixture with a potato masher. When the chicken came out of the oven, I then decided to take a ride on the gravy train. Thus, I mixed about 1 tbsp of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water, until there were no lumps, set the roasting pan on two burners, at a low heat, and used a wooden spoon to mix the cornstarch slurry into the drippings remaining in the roasting pan. When the sauce thickened, I had gravy! (Let me warn you though, the gravy will be a little sour from the lemon juice that seeped out during the roasting process.)

See how easy it is to have a great and affordable dinner on the table in less than 2 hours, with very minimal labor?

I hope that you have learned from my kitchen failure. We all make mistakes when cooking, but that leaves many more opportunities for the successes! Good luck, and keep on cooking!


  1. Looks delicious, I love baked chicken:)

  2. Now I am officially starving.. That looks amazingly delicious!

  3. That looks delicious! I've made roasted chicken before but nothing that looks like that. It may be time to revisit it! Thanks for the great tips.

  4. My roast chicken method is to bake breast side down at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, then flip and bake another hour at 325 degrees. Fall off the bone tender and juicy. For deepest flavor, I use the Zuni Cafe method, 1 tsp salt per lb of chicken. Rub it all over inside and out, then let rest at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.

    Just slight adjustments but they make a huge difference in overall flavor and crispy skin. I used the same method for turkey for thanksgiving and totally skipped out on the whole brining thing and it was the best roast turkey.

  5. Beautiful photos of the mashed potato process. So fluffy and warm!

  6. Yum, the skin on that chicken looks like perfection! I love roasted chicken! Thanks for sharing the tips!

  7. Just found your blog through foodgawker , looks great. A quick tip for you mash potato. Once you have boiled the potato's; drain them and sit them in the oven for 5 minutes in a roasting tin to dry them out. The extra water you take away through evaporation makes them that bit more fluffy, and they 'soak up' the butter and milk (I use cream) that little bit better.

  8. that's a PERFECT chicken! applause to the chefJ!

  9. PE that is one gorgeous plate of food!

  10. Thanks for your encouraging comments Anonymous, Ashley, Amy, Ellie, Chef Ben, Taste Memory, and FoodHoe, the chicken and potatoes actually looked better in person than in the images, but maybe I'll post about it again sometime!

    And Wandering Chopsticks and Calum, I can't begin to thank you two enough for the great advice! I love the roasting and "evaporating" techniques and will have to implement them the next time!

  11. WOW! That chicken looks beautifully-delicious. I am gonna' try it. Do I cook it for 1 hour at 450 with a lid or without?


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