Let me start be telling you this is not a fast meal. It’s not particularly complicated, most of the cooking is hands off. But it’s a big, hearty meal. One that will likely leave you with leftovers. A meal that will take a few hours in the oven and feed a bigger group. This is the perfect Sunday supper.
My goal with this was not to feed a crowd; there were only three of us eating (one being my two-year-old). I planned around this meal, intending to have leftovers and took a few extra prep steps to make the week easier. The chicken breast will go into sandwiches, either chicken salad or plain (the herb, garlic and lemon flavor is so good, I am leaning toward plain) and the remaining chicken will be turned into soup with whatever leftover veggies I have. I chopped extra herbs and set aside some celery, carrots and onion for later this week, so my soup prep is essentially done. I can throw it into the crock pot overnight and make a fragrant stock for chicken noodle soup.
Bam. Three meals in one.
While there’s nothing revolutionary about this meal, it does rely on fresh herbs. Dried herbs from the cupboard won’t give you the same punch. The herb mixture is flexible and forgiving, use what you have. I have quite a selection available to me in my yard (I used what I listed below, plus lemon verbena, lemon balm and thai basil), but if you’re buying fresh from the store it can get pricey. If you have to be selective, rosemary, thyme and oregano are my recommendations. And don’t skimp on the garlic.
You will need:
1 whole chicken
3 lemons (1 cut in half, for juice; 2 sliced thinly into wheels)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery
2-4 cups fresh herbs: rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, sage, parsley
course sea salt + fresh cracked pepper
Technique: Rinse and pat dry. Use a deep baking dish that fits your bird snug- you want the wings and legs to be close to the body, it helps keep the moisture in. Place in dish breast side up. Stuff the cavity with celery and onion, both roughly chopped (large stems and quarters). Stuff with a one or two sprigs of each herb. With your remaining fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil, create a runny paste: chop herbs and garlic finely and mix with olive oil and juice of half a lemon. (Tip: rather than discard the lemon rind after juicing, stuff it into the cavity as well) Season heavily with course sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Be generous, spreading this all over the bird, especially under the skin. Slip thin lemon slices under the skin as well to flavor the breast meat. Layer 2-3 lemon slices outside the skin as well.
Roast, uncovered, taking the bird out to baste at the 30 minute mark. (Baste by spooning liquid back onto the bird.) Cook at 375F until internal temperature is 180F, about an hour and a half. Skin should be browned and crisp. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Serving Suggestions? Roast some veggies along side your chicken, such as carrots or brussels sprouts. Chop, toss lightly in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast on a sheet pan. Keep an eye on them, tossing occasionally until browned and caramelized. A perfect Sunday dinner that requires little interference an yields big results.