Lemon, Thyme & Garlic Roast Chicken
I wish I could take full credit for this outrageously simple yet unbelievably delicious roast chicken. Like so many dishes I cook, it is a variation of one that has been perfected by a chef far more capable and experienced than myself. In this case it’s none other than the legendary Thomas Keller. Keller prefers to leave the cavity of the chicken empty while roasting because he does not want to introduce any excess moisture or steam into the bird, which would result in a less crispy skin. However, I feel as though stuffing the chicken is a great opportunity to impart more flavors and if you dry the bird thoroughly enough you will still end up with a delicious, crispy skin (by far the best part!). Lemon, thyme and garlic go so well together, and this is a perfect example of it, but you could go with just about any herb or citrus here.
I can’t stress how easy this recipe really is. Yes, you’ll have to navigate the art of trussing, which I still have to work on, but I can think of worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon! Just know that the reward of a perfectly roasted chicken is worth the trouble of fumbling around with some twine for 3 minutes. Aside from letting the bird come to room temperature, the recipe will only take a few minutes to prep and then approximately 50 minutes in the oven with absolutely no maintenance. Go find something else to do while it cooks, anything other than opening the oven door and smelling the intoxicating aromas of roasted chicken, garlic, thyme and lemon. I usually take the time to work on my dissertation or prep for the week ahead. By the end of it all, your home will smell like a restaurant and your family will think that you went to culinary school overnight! Serve with a seasonal salad of your choice, maybe some roast sweet potatoes, and some fizzy water with slices of lemon! Yup! I’m definitely making this again come Sunday!
Give it a go and let me know what you think in the comments below!
1 Free-range, antibiotic and hormone free chicken (approx. 3 – 3.5 lbs)
Cracked black pepper
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
½ head of garlic
- Remove chicken from fridge and allow to come to room temperature before cooking.
- Preheat your oven to 425F.
- Rinse chicken under cold water and dry thoroughly with kitchen towel (you want it bone dry).
- Liberally season the inside and outside of the bird with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Stuff the cavity with 1 lemon (cut in half), 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme, ½ head of garlic (smashed but skin left on).
- Truss the bird so that the legs seal the cavity.
- Place the trussed bird at the bottom of a Dutch oven or oven-safe skillet (cast-iron is perfect for this) and transfer into the preheated oven.
- Cook for 50 minutes without opening the oven door.
- After 50 minutes, insert a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh. The thermometer should read 160F. If the reading is below 160F, place the bird back in the oven and retest every 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven. With the bird still in the Dutch oven or skillet, add 2-4 sprigs of fresh thyme and a few slices of lemon to the rendered chicken juices (Shmaltz!!!). Using a large spoon or turkey baster, continuously baste the bird with the juices for a few minutes. This will impart a great deal of flavour to the entirety of the bird and will allow the residual heat to bring the chicken up to an internal temperature of 165F – the safe temperature to consume poultry.
- Transfer to a cutting board and carve accordingly (I’m a leg man myself!)
A special thank you to Zwilling J. A. Henckels for their unbelievable generosity in helping to make this recipe possible!
Items featured in this recipe: (click each for source)