Making homemade chicken stock is by far the easiest way to get as much as…
Lemon-Herb & Pesto Roasted Chicken
This roasted chicken is simple, light and full of Spring flavors. It’s also the perfect centerpiece to a last minute family gathering while putting the store bought rotisserie chicken to shame.
As we enter into Spring, get ready for the light, herbaceous and citrusy recipes. This roasted chicken is super simple, yet, show stopping. It’s lean, flavorful and it a GREAT way to kick off the spring season for a ton of different reasons.
Learning how to roast a chicken is probably one of the smartest techniques you can master. Here’s why:
- It’s a beautiful centerpiece to the dinner table that looks like you spent all day working on it.
- Hardly anyone (meat eaters, that is) will complain about this perfectly cooked protein .
- It’s meant to be added to so many leftover meals.
- This is a recipe where NOTHING goes to waste (not even the bones).
- And, it’s inexpensive as your dollar stretches pretty far with just one single recipe.
So now that we know WHY you should make this recipe, let’s talk about the HOW…
This was honestly the first time I made a whole roasted chicken alone. And I bought 2 or 3 because I wanted to PERFECT the recipe. I get it, you can stop by the store on a week night and pick up a rotisserie chicken and call it a day. This is so much better than your store bought rotisserie. You will be super proud of serving it to your family, freshly made.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE store rotisserie chickens when the craving strikes. They’re convenient, versatile and juicy. The problem I run into more often than not is that I start breaking them down (either hot or cold) and they are greasy and somewhat small in size. When I learned how to make my own, I noticed a lot less goo and grease and the bone to meat ratio seemed to be better. Now, I could be wrong or just selected a bulked up bird, but the fact is, there was a difference in the freshness and the taste, and that I loved.
Don’t over think this. The reason I am sharing this recipe is because I really wanted to make a full blown turkey but went the chicken route instead to understand the fundamentals of cleaning and prepping a bird. This process is not meant for those who have a weak stomach. You do have to stick your whole hand in the cavity and check to see if there are packaged giblets inside. You should store these in the fridge and keep these for sauce or stock. You also want to check that all organs are removed. Make sure the cavity is cleared of everything before washing the chicken.
Yes, you do need to rinse off the chicken. A simple rinse under cold water is fine but be sure to use a large amount of paper towels to dry off the chicken after it has been rinsed. That’s it. That is the hardest part of the prep process.
There are also tons of ways to make roasted chicken such as the flavors you add and the pans you use. I’ll talk more below about what was best in this scenario and probably found in most households. I also used whatever I had on hand for flavoring. I always have lemons or some sort of citrus available in my kitchen (or bar). In this case I also had thyme, rosemary, pesto and root vegetables that needed to be used. That’s how I came up with lemon herb chicken (a pretty classic flavor) because I needed to use up what was slowly dying in my fridge. Get creative and smart about what’s in your kitchen or pantry. There are no right or wrong recipes if you combine herbs, vegetables and a splash of citrus.
Last but not least, before starting this recipe, prepare to be amazed how this one process can bring you a few different meals. Bake a whole chicken with the “waste not, want not” mindset because it will bring you fulfillment in knowing you brought more meals to the table with something as simple as a chicken. Save it all! Even the ends to the vegetables you cut up need to go into a bag with the onion peels and the drippings. I warn you now so you can thank me later.
Lemon-Herb & Pesto Roasted Chicken
- 3 medium carrots peeled
- 2 medium parsnips peeled
- 1 large onion red, white or yellow
- 2 medium celery stocks (optional)
- 2 large lemons 1 sliced, 1 quartered
- 4-6 cloves garlic peeled
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 1 4-5 pound whole chicken with skin and bones
- 2 tablespoons butter (more if desired)
- ¼-⅓ cup basil pesto
- herbs, sprigs or small bunches of choice
- 1 teaspoon oregano dried
- 1 teaspoon thyme dried
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 tablespoon granulated
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- olive oil if desired
- Preheat over to 375°
- Clean, peel and prep all base vegetables. Cut carrots, parsnips, celery, and peeled onions into equal size pieces and keep them rather large and roughly cut. Peel garlic cloves and slice lemons.
- Using a 1 1/2” – 2” deep 13” x 9” casserole dish, lightly coat the dish with olive oil and lay lemon slices on the bottom of the dish in the center. Spread the base vegetables all around the dish, keeping the garlic close to the center by the lemon slices. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss and sprinkle on a dash of salt and pepper.
- Unwrap and clean out the whole chicken (insides and all) and briefly rinse whole chicken under water (including the cavity area) for 10-15 seconds.
- Pat the chicken completely dry and place on top of the lemons, garlic and the base vegetables. Smear butter all over the skin. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken all over the body of the chicken. Salt and pepper the cavity as well and then stuff with fresh herbs, lemon and leftover vegetables. Tie the legs together with twine or floss so the cavity is completely closed so that the bones of the legs are touching.
- Take the pesto and rub around the chicken to try and cover all skin, chicken and even inside the crevasses. Sprinkle oregano, thyme and garlic all over.
- Place in the center of the oven and cook for 1 hour 30 mins to 2 hours (uncovered) depending on when it reaches 165 degrees internal temperature. Rule of thumb is to plan for 20-25 minutes of cook time per pound. **Cooking times and temperatures may vary. Skin should be golden brown and you can use a broiler the last 1-2 minutes to achieve that, if needed, but watch closely.
- Let sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.