Roasted chicken is a favorite to serve to family or guests. Fresh lemon, rosemary, and Italian herbs create a savory combination perfect for poultry. Wise cooks know whole roasting chickens are economical to buy and provide a mouthwatering meal while stretching your food budget. This recipe includes potatoes and vegetables creating a complete meal in your roaster. Present your roasted lemon herb chicken on a platter for an extra special touch. Enjoy!
Thoroughly rinse your thawed chickens. Giblets are not usually included with a roasting chicken, but check in the cavity and remove if the packet is there. Cut away any trussing (string); the chicken will cook more evenly without it. Pat dry with paper towels.
Slide your hand under the skin to loosen. Start at the largest cavity opening and wiggle up under the legs and breast. Turn the chicken over and loosen the other side. Sprinkle salt on the exterior and interior of the chicken (optional if restricted)
Mix up your herb blend. For two chickens use a total of about 2 TBLS dried herbs. Example: 1 TBSP Italian seasoning, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. lemon pepper, and 1 tsp. citrus seasoning blend. Adapt the spices to your taste.
Take a scoop up the herbs and rub under the loosened skin onto as much meat as you can reach on both sides of the chicken.
Fold the skin over the meat. Tuck or press to seal the edges. The skin will keep the chickens moist as you roast them.
Pour about 1 tablespoon olive oil into your hand and rub the chicken all over on both sides. This keeps the skin moist during the roasting.
Cut fresh rosemary if you grow it, or use fresh rosemary from the market. Cut your lemon into 8 wedges.
Stuff rosemary, lemon wedges, onion and garlic cloves into the cavity of each chicken. Place the chicken in the fridge for a couple of hours or more in a bowl or plastic zipper bag. Cover the chicken if you leave it overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees when you are ready to roast the chickens.
Quarter the potatoes and cut up the carrots and celery. Arrange on the bottom of your roasting pan. The vegetables will act as a rack and stay moist during the roasting.
Place the chickens breast side down on top of the vegetables and put into the oven. Cover the roaster with a lid or foil and roast for about ½ hour.
Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Turn the chickens over by inserting a wooden spoon inside the cavity and using a meat fork to assist. Continue roasting uncovered for another 45 minutes or so.
Turn the chickens over again and use a turkey baster to remove excess drippings from the bottom of the pan. Basting the chickens should not be required, but you can if you wish. Save the drippings for gravy or soup. Continue roasting until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees. The featured two chickens were 3 ½ pounds each and total cooking time was 2 ½ hours. They were cold from marinating in the refrigerator; this adds a little more time to the recommended time on the package.
Ovens will vary; you can turn the temperature up if your chickens are not roasting to meet your schedule. If the potatoes are not fork tender put the lid on the roaster for another 20 minutes. After the chickens are roasted, many chefs like to leave the meat set for 15 to 20 minutes for easier carving. If you would like to hold your chicken longer, cover with foil or a lid to keep them warm.
Serve your delicious chicken dinner. One chicken feeds 4 –5 people. Store leftover chicken in the refrigerator for use the next day.
Save the carcass, rosemary, lemons, and any leftover drippings for making lemon herb chicken soup. You can freeze the carcasses until soup making day.
Place the drippings in the refrigerator. The fat will rise to the top and can easily be discarded when chilled.
Freeze the drippings for soup or gravy.
Wash hands and work surfaces thoroughly after working with raw poultry.
You can half this recipe and roast just one chicken, or go ahead and roast two and freeze the meat for later use.
Chicken breast needs to be cooked to 180 degrees.
Always clean work surfaces with soapy water when working with raw poultry.