Nothing is better than a home filled with the smell of fresh herbs and roasted chicken; it is intoxicating. I was in the mood for a little comfort food, so I gathered some of my favorite root vegetables like sweet potatoes, fennel, onions, celery, carrots, and some summer ingredients like sweet white corn and heirloom tomatoes. These vegetables would be the “nest” for the roasted lemon and herb chicken.
This is one of my favorite roasted chicken recipes, and it is inspired by Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller. I like to use this method but substitute the vegetable ingredients depending on the season. The recipe is almost effortless, and you even have time to watch jeopardy or do a quick 30 minute workout like my husband and I did while the chicken was in the oven.
This recipe roasts the chicken on a beautiful bed of vegetables as shown in the picture below. The juices and fat slowly render from the chicken and the flavors infuse into the vegetables. The extremely flavorful juices from cooking can be collected and made into a quick pan sauce.
A 4.5 pound chicken from Trader Joe’s was selected; a perfect size dinner for 2 with leftovers or can serve up to 4 people.
In the cavity of the chicken, generously add salt and pepper, fresh thyme, crushed garlic and 1 whole lemon sliced in half.
The lemon will roast inside the chicken and give a wonderful flavor and aroma to the finished product.
Beneath the skin, add fresh rosemary and thin slices of butter to enhance the flavor and moistness of the chicken as it roasts. To truss the chicken, make sure to remove the wishbone to help with carving later. The wing tips are tucked under the bird.
With about a 3 ft piece of string, center it around the neck end of the breast, wrap it around the wings, and pull the twine over the breast towards you. Knot the string, pulling it tight to plump the breast of the chicken.
The ends of the twine are brought around the ends of the drumsticks then straight up, then tied the string to pull the ends of the drumsticks together, then tied it again to secure the knot.
Place the chicken in the vegetable “nest”, season the skin with salt and pepper, drizzle with vegetable oil and then rub into the skin to coat evenly. Add some butter to the surface of the skin to help with flavor and browning of the skin.
In a pre-heated oven set at 475 degrees F, roast the chicken for 25 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 400 degrees F, then roast for an additional 40-45 minutes, until the internal temperature registered 160 degrees F.
Here’s the beautiful lemon and herb roasted chicken out of the oven, and resting for 20 minutes to finish cooking. The resting process prevents the juices from running out of the meat and drying out.
Here is an aerial view of the golden brown chicken and laying in the “nest” of delicious roasted vegetables.
The vegetables are mixed in the pan juices and seasoned with a little bit of salt and pepper.
Time to carve the chicken!
Tender and juicy, practically falling off the bone…
Getting ready to slice the breast pieces…
A quick pan sauce was made from the roasting juices to add all of the wonderful concentrated flavors from the cooking process.
The herbs underneath the skin made the chicken even more aromatic and enticing while eating.
The roasted vegetables were tender and caramelized. The baby tomatoes popped when you bite into them, giving a wonderful concentrated savory and sweet flavor, it was fantastic! The roasted lemons add a brightness to the sauce, and sweetness from the roasting. Squeezing the lemon on top of the roasted chicken for extra flavor!
The ultimate comfort food that leaves your tummy and soul satisfied. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow!
- One 4 to 4½ pound chicken
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled.
- 8 thyme sprigs
- 4 sprigs of rosemary
- 1 lemon
- Half yellow onion, large dice
- 4 carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut in half
- 1 cup brussel spouts, halved
- 3 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into large dices
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large pieces
- ½ fennel bulb cut into large dices
- 1½ cup baby tomatoes
- 1 ear of white corn, cut into fourths
- 1 lemon, cut in fourths
- Vegetable oil, as needed
- 6 tablespoons of butter, at room temperature
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1½ to 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 475 degree F.
- Remove the neck and innards if they are still in the cavity of the chicken. Using a paring knife, cut out the wishbone from the chicken. Generously season the cavity with salt and pepper, add 3 garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of thyme, massage the inside of the birds to infuse it with the flavors. Add one whole lemon sliced in half into the cavity.
- Add some fresh rosemary and enough butter to cover the breast beneath the skin.
- Truss the chicken.
- Wash, cut and prepare all of the vegetables for the vegetable nest. Combine the onions, celery, fennel, corn, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and garlic in a bowl. Add enough vegetable oil to coat the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in a large cast iron skillet to roasting pan. Add remaining sprigs of thyme, rosemary and lemon slices to the vegetables.
- Rub some vegetable oil all over the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Make a nest in the center of the vegetables and nestle the chicken in it. Cut the butter into 4 to 6 pieces and place over the chicken breast.
- Place chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 degrees F and roast for an additonal 45 minutes, or until the temperature registers 160 degree F in the meatiest portion of the bird- the thighs, and under the breast where the thighs meet the breast. The juices should run clear. If needed, return the bird to the oven for more roasting, and check every 5 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to the cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Just before serving, set the pan of vegetables over medium heat and reheat the vegetables, turning and glazing them with the pan juices. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
- If there are any additional pan juices, separate from the vegetables, and make a quick sauce. Heat a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour. Whisk to create a roux and once it is a pale yellow, add the hot pan juices and continue to whisk until the sauce is slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper if needed.
- To Serve- Cut the chicken into serving pieces, and arrange over vegetables, serve with pan sauce if desired.