Monday, May 23, 2011

Lemon Roasted Chicken

On Sunday's (or any day) there something about a roasted chicken that just screams of home. It conjours up memories of the "old days" and reminds some of us of parents, grandparents or special meals.  It also reminds is of slower, easier times.  I call that the "Mayberry effect".  I just KNOW in my heart of hearts that Andy Griffith had a roasted chicken or pot roast EVERY Sunday night made lovingly by Aunt Bea......!! (you know you think the same thing!!)

The smell of it baking is inviting and comforting.  Somehow a roasted chicken just seems special doesn't it?  Even though we can bake chicken pieces, saute skinless breasts, BBQ it, slice it, dice it and sauce it....It just seems like making a whole chicken is a far bigger deal than it really is. 

I like to wait till chickens are on sale...then I buy 2 or 3 and freeze them.  I use them for Roasting (like in this recipe) or boiling (think soup, chicken and dumplings, shredded chicken with the benefit of homemade stock!)

The recipe for Roasted lemon chicken is sometimes referred to as Engagement chicken. Look it up on the Internet....there are a million recipes...all very similar.  The story goes that if you make this chicken for your boyfriend, it's so good that you should expect a proposal of marriage.......My husband said...he liked it so much he would marry me again!

This recipe has a lot of lemons.  It seems like too much.  DON'T SECOND GUESS IT.  The lemon is NOT overpowering, even though you'd think it would be. 

This is perfect for anytime, but I love it on Sunday's.

Lemon Roasted Chicken
Points/calories are dependant on whether you eat white or dark meat, skin or no skin...and quantity

1 whole chicken (3-5 lbs)
5 to 6 Fresh lemons
1 whole head garlic (cut in half crosswise - so garlic cloves are exposed but head is in tact)
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 large onions chopped in large pcs (quartered or in eighths)
4 large red or white rose potatoes (or use what you have)
Kosher or sea salt and pepper (freshly ground if possible)

For gravy

1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
salt and pepper
Fresh lemon juice
Thyme from the roasted chicken
Olive oil

Remove and discard the chicken liver, giblets and anything else in the chicken - rinse well and pat dry with paper towels inside and out.

If you have time, heavily salt and pepper inside the cavity and out and set on a platter....wrap in plastic wrap and set in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  When ready to bake, take chicken out, rinse and dry again.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Using a citrus squeezer, squeeze the juice of 2 of the lemons inside cavity and out. Liberally salt and pepper chicken inside and out.

Place garlic head, 1 lemon - quartered, and the thyme inside of the cavity.  Tie up the chicken legs with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body.  Place chicken in a 9X13 pan.

Now cut up potatoes, onions and place in bowl. Mix potatoes with kosher salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Cut last lemon in 8 wedges and mix in with potatoes.

Place potatoes all around the chicken:

When done, It should look like this:

Pop chicken in hot oven with a probe meat thermometer. If you have a 6th lemon, you can baste the chicken with lemon juice during baking.   The temperature should be 180 degrees before you remove chicken from the oven.  When chicken is done remove potatoes and onions to serving bowl and put chicken on a platter cut string and CAREFULLY remove thyme and garlic for gravy. Let it rest for 10 minutes (leave in thermometer) - you will see temperature rise about 5 degrees or more.

While chicken is resting, make gravy.  Put the pan on the stove top and turn heat to medium-high.  Add wine and stir up the bottom to scape up the brown bits, boiling the wine a bit.  Add the stock and sprinkle on the flour whisking continuously for a minute or more, until sauce thickens.  Add salt, pepper, some thyme leaves (from inside of chicken), and a couple of the roasted garlic cloves, mashed up, if desired.

Serve and carve table side:

The result?  A beautifully roasted chicken bursting with lemon goodness that is tender, flavorful and comforting.  A real Sunday dinner treat.

From my home to yours, ENJOY!

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