Saturday, January 5, 2008

Roasted Lemon Chicken

Since I'd bought a Kosher chicken at Trader Joe's the other day, I wanted to do something different. I mean, a roast chicken is a roast chicken, but we get tired of the same old sliced chicken. I wanted it to be succulent and juicy, not dry and stringy. What to do?

I turned to my America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. The recipes are never overdone. They're not fancy. But they've worked out these little details to make something ordinary like meatloaf - or roast chicken - better. I've learned to trust this cookbook when I've used it. This time was no exception.

Just the title, Roast Lemon Chicken, grabbed me. I'm a sucker for anything lemon, and had one Meyer left. The recipe suggests you brine the chicken. Well, if you buy a Kosher chicken, it's already brined. Yea! I didn't follow the recipe down to the letter. I didn't whisk in the additional butter to the sauce which is mentioned in the recipe below. The book recommends using a V-rack. I have a V-rack, but it's for a turkey, and I didn't feel like retrieving the large roasting pan to put it in either, for this small little chicken. I just used a regular rack and put it on a piece of foil. And since I had just one lemon, I had to put some of it in the cavity and the rest was squeezed for the juice called for in the pan juices. I knew the juice was a necessary ingredient for the sauce. The recipe suggests baking the chicken for 40 minutes at 350. Then you turn the pan around and hike up the heat to 450. Laziness had set in and I didn't move down the rack in my oven, so the skin got a bit charred, but the meat underneath was still succulent, likely because of all that herb butter that seeped into it.

I also used my new little heat-resistant silicone bands (looks like a rubber band on the legs above) for both the legs and the wings. They worked like a charm. And the finished dish? Delicious! I'll make this again.

Roasted Lemon Chicken
Recipe: adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Servings: 4
4 pounds whole chicken
1 whole lemon -- quartered
6 whole garlic cloves -- peeled and crushed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary -- minced, or parsley, tarragon or chives
1 tablespoon fresh thyme -- minced
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice Salt and pepper
1. Either buy a kosher chicken, or brine the chicken before proceeding.
2. Drain chicken, rinse under cold water and pat completely dry. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Place the cut-up lemon and garlic inside the chicken cavity. Tie up legs and wings.
4. Combine 2 T. of the butter and all the herbs, with a bit of salt and pepper. Using a spoon, put pieces of the butter under the skin of the chicken breast and press on the outside to spread it over a larger area. With any extra butter mixture, spread lightly on the outside of the skin. Sprinkle entire chicken with salt and pepper.
5. Spray a rack with oil spray and set in a roasting pan. Place chicken on the rack, breast side up. Pour one cup of the chicken broth into the bottom of the pan. Roast the chicken for 40 minutes.
6. Increase oven temp to 450, and turn pan in the oven and continue to bake until the breast meat registers 170, about 20-30 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and using heavy-duty utensils, tip chicken so the juices inside spill out into the roasting pan. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil for about 20 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, skim any fat from the juices and stir in remaining chicken broth, scraping up any brown bits. Pour these juices into a saucepan and simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened, and measures about 1/2 cup. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, one piece at a time. Off the heat, stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
9. Carve the chicken, discarding the lemon quarters and garlic from the chicken cavity. Spoon some sauce over the chicken slices and serve.
Per Serving (includes the additional butter added to the sauce, and assumes you consume the skin): 824 Calories; 62g Fat (66.8% calories from fat); 64g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 321mg Cholesterol; 245mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 8 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 7 1/2 Fat.
To print a PDF recipe, click title at top.


Britt-Arnhild said...

Chicken and lemon - a perfect pair.

ThursdayNext said...

I am going to try a recipe from Giada that uses orange instead of lemon for roasted chicken when I am on a weekend getaway at a house on the North Fork next month. :)

Anonymous said...

i didnt know you can buy kosher chicken at trader joes. i have been buy my chicken from and I dont like to wait as long as i do for them. I will have to try trader joes out....thank you !

Anonymous said...

Would Cornish Game hens work for this? How about a good yet simple recipe for cornish game hens.

Carolyn T said...

Britt-Arnhild: yes, chicken and lemon do just GO together, for sure.

ThursdayNext - I think the orange sounds like a great idea too. The sauce, however, would be sweeter than with lemon. But, why not? I'd serve it with rice to soak up some of that sauce.

Kosher chickens - TJ's doesn't always have them - I bought the last one the day I was there. If yours doesn't carry them, ask at the desk and maybe they'll order some. It's worth trying.

Cornish Hens - I suppose they would work as far as the citrus inside the cavity, and the butter under the skin, but you'd need to alter the baking time and temperature. Cornish hens have thinner skin and less fat, so they needs slower cooking. At least that's my first thought. I do have one good recipe for hens, but it's a summer dish, a salad that you lay the hens on after grilling them. I will post it eventually.