A Recipe for Summer: Easy Whole Roast Chicken with Thyme and Lemon
Andy Broder Roasted Chicken with Thyme and Lemon
Roasting a whole chicken can be daunting (at least the first time), but it's just as easy as making boneless skinless chicken breasts. A whole chicken takes longer to cook, but it's 1) juicier, 2) tastier, 3) takes less active time, and 4) it's cheaper.
My recipe for Whole Roasted Chicken with Thyme and Lemon omits a couple of boilerplate steps. I don't tie back the legs or clip the wings (called trussing, which rhymes with fussing for good reason) so occasionally, I serve a tasty bird with legs akimbo. Nor do I baste, because an oil rub at the outset works just as well.
At least a decade ago, Barbara Kafka wrote a book about roasting pretty much everything at 500 degrees. My recipe is inspired by her concept of a really hot oven and motivated by all the time it saves. But for me, 450 is a better temperature. It's more forgiving if your timing is off.
Andy Broder Non-Chicken Ingredients for the Roast Chicken
While my oven preheats, I thoroughly rinse the chicken with very hot tap water. I cut away all the excess skin around the neck. And, for this recipe, I toss out the neck and all the organs that scare the squeamish. I pat the bird dry, inside and out. Then I make a blend of salt, pepper, and any other herbs or spices I want to use. The options I most use include garlic, thyme, dill, oregano, and sage (but not all at the same time).
Since this is a summer chicken, I chose lemon and thyme. I use fresh thyme and both lemon zest and slices of whole lemon. I rub some of my salt and pepper blend over the inside of the chicken. Then I blend some of the mixture with butter and get that mixture between the skin and the meat -- ideally, the breast meat and the thighs. I put a sliced lemon and a few sprigs of thyme inside the bird and put it in a pan breast-side up. I rub also butter or olive oil all over the skin, which creates a moisture barrier, keeping the meat moist and at the same time crisping the skin.