A Recipe for Summer: Easy Whole Roast Chicken with Thyme and Lemon

Categories: Recipes

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.

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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.

Andy Broder
Non-Chicken Ingredients for the Roast Chicken
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.

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.

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