Well. I don’t know what kind of weather you’ve been having where you are, but here in Chicago, we’re receiving a little bit of a blizzard. Actually, that’s not right. There’s nothing little about it. Six inches of fluffy white fell fast and furious through the end of my work day and into my commute, meaning what usually makes for a 30-minute drive became just under two hours, full of fishtailing and slushy slow-crawling and, well, clutching the steering wheel while fighting back tears.
Through all that time in the car, I spent a lot of time thinking, mainly about how only an idiot doesn’t fill up her gas tank the morning of a projected snowstorm. That was quickly followed, though, by the list of people I could call if I hit empty before reaching an exit, and then a realization that I am blessed indeed. Also, I knew that if I ever did reach home again (and I was praying with all my heart and shaking hands that I would), there was a golden roasted turkey waiting for me.
The turkey, a shining triumph in my eyes, was the fruit of having Monday off work and spending the day—where else?—in the kitchen. My blogging friend Macheesmo recently posted his version of Roasted Lemon Chicken, and the moment I saw it, I knew I would make it. I mean, really, look at it! Since he mentioned being inspired by Tyler Florence, I checked out Food Network as well, and what I created was a combination of the two recipes.
It was, simply, delicious: moist, tender, garlicky, filled with refreshing citrus. At first bite, it reminded me of those rotisserie chickens you can buy at the grocery store, which, if you were to spy on me when I need a fast meal, is the kind of thing you’d see me grabbing, along with a loaf of fresh, crusty Italian bread.
But a few more bites in, I realized it was better. Like, OH BOY, better. The-reward-at-the-end-of-a-long-commute better. Did-I-really-make-this better!?
I gave some to my brother, who raved and raved about how much he loved it and then e-mailed me this afternoon to say again it was amazing. And I knew, steadying my vehicle on the final hill, two stoplights before home, that it would be a warm, comforting, satisfying dinner on a night when I felt cold and wet and in need of something hearty.
(By the way, I did hear, in the course of that drive, that other parts of the country are or will soon be receiving similar weather, so, if you live, well, anywhere, there’s a chance you’ll want this chicken, too.)
Another thing you should know about this meal: it’s very easy. I promise. You season the bird, stuff it with half a lemon, half a head of garlic, some herbs, and then you stick it in a roasting pan, surrounded by potatoes and carrots. (Note: Macheesmo used a 9 X 13 pan with good results, so that’s another option.) Stick it in the oven for a while, and, for a rotisserie effect, you’ll turn it every 20 minutes or so. The turning proved to be the only difficult part, but it’s entirely optional.
Oh, and it goes fast. When I came home, all wanting to kiss the ground and collapse on the sofa, the roast turkey was on the counter, completely eaten. This is what was left, literally:
I’m just saying: You won’t want to wait on this one.
Roasted Lemon Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots
Adapted from Macheesmo and Tyler Florence
1 (4 to 5 pound) free-range chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, halved
1/4 bunch each fresh rosemary and parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
2-pound mix of red new potatoes, fingerling potatoes and baby carrots
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Rinse the chicken with cool water, inside and out, then pat it dry with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper, and then stuff the lemon half, garlic half (chop a garlic head right in half, easy as that) and herbs inside. Place the chicken, breast-side up, in a roasting pan. Toss the potatoes and carrots around the chicken.
Season the whole thing with a fair amount of salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the chicken and potatoes for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the thermometer says 170 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the thighs. Every 15 to 20 minutes, turn the chicken 45 degrees, in order to create a rotisserie effect and make the skin nice and crispy. Toss the potatoes and carrots to ensure even cooking. You’ll also want to baste periodically—with the pan juices, with squeezed lemon, with chunks of butter. I also used a tongs to rub the garlic, which had fallen out, over the outsides.
Once the meat is fully cooked, remove the chicken to a platter and let stand for 10 minutes, so the juices settle back into the meat before carving. Serve with the roasted potatoes on the side.