Rosemary Lemon Chicken is my husband's favorite dish. He would argue with that statement, but I know it is true, because it is what he asks me to make it more than any other recipe. In fact, he would like me to bake a chicken at least once a week and sometimes, I do.
There are so many good reasons to do so .... delicious, tender chicken the first night, chicken sandwiches the next day, chicken enchiladas for dinner the next night, and chicken soup or chicken stock, for a savory and complete end to the bird.
Homemade oven-roasted chicken will always beat the store-bought Costco or Safeway version in tenderness and taste. In addition, you know there will be no MSG or other preservatives and chemicals. I make sure to use only organic - free range chickens whenever possible. It costs a little more, but definitely worth it.
Oven-roasted chicken is a very easy dish to make, as well. In fact, once you put it in the oven, set the timer and pretty much forget about it.
Rosemary Lemon Chicken
1 Small Young Frying Chicken (approx. 5 lbs)
1 Medium Yellow Onion
3 large Sprigs Rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
2 TBS Butter
1 Large Head Garlic
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Remove all giblets and anything else from the inside of the chicken. Rinse with water. Place on baking sheet. Pat dry. Liberally salt and pepper outside of bird, including the inside of the cavity. Lift up skin on breast from near the cavity, separating skin from the muscle and making two small pockets. Add a pinch or two of salt and pepper in this area too.
Roughly chop onion into large chunks. Cut Garlic head in half horizontally, leaving skin on. Chop one lemon into large chunks. Squeeze lemon juice from the lemon over the bird. Stuff lemon peels/pulp chunks, with onions and bottom half of head of garlic (skin still on), into the bird.
Take second lemon and cut in half between ends with stems. Zest 1/2 of the lemon. Slice the other half into attractive slices, about 1/4 inch thick. Set aside. Take top half of garlic head and peel the cloves. Run through a garlic press and mix with lemon zest. Remove leaves from the rosemary stem. Finely chop about half of the rosemary and mix with the lemon zest/garlic and 2 TBS butter.
Rub lemon zest/rosemary/garlic/butter mixture inside breast pockets and on top and sides of chicken. Toss remaining rosemary leaves on top and around chicken. Some people dress the bird by tying the legs together with kitchen string and tucking the wings under. I never do and the chicken turns out fine. But I will leave that up to you.
Place stuffed bird, breast side up, in medium-sized cast iron dutch oven, with lid off. Garnish top with reserved lemon slices. Pour in 1 box of chicken stock. Place pot in preheated oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Set timer for 1 hour, 45 minutes and bake. Remove chicken from pan and let rest on a serving platter for 15 minutes and serve. Any remaining juices may be strained and used to make a light sauce, by reducing with 1/2 cup of white wine.