Cooking a whole chicken is something I found intimidating for a ridiculous amount of time. The insides grossed me out after years of not eating any meat at all, I was faintly terrified of all the fat in the skin after believing for so long that skinless boneless chicken breasts were the “healthiest”. Similarly, I was frightened by the idea of undercooking the damn thing and giving myself food poisoning. Chickens and I were not getting along. Needless to say, I spent quite a lot of time overcooking whole chickens and then wondering what all the fuss was about. I mean, it’s just as dry as a chicken breast and five million times more hassle, right? That’s what I thought. Until I figured out this method and the super simple lemon garlic roast chicken showed me the way to tender, flavorful roast chicken. Yay!
In fact, the meat is so delicious when roasted correctly that I keep the seasonings really simple. This Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken is delicately flavored and lets the bird itself shine. The wonder of a simple digital meat thermometer comes into play here, especially useful when you’re learning how a “done” chicken looks and feels. I use a pocket sized one like this. Once I learned about how to rest meat before cutting into it – thanks, vegetarian years! – I discovered how to let my oven do all of the work. This is the easiest, most fool-proof way I’ve found to get a moist, delicious chicken without having to do anything more complicated than making sure it’s cooked through at the end. No basting, no turning, no flipping. Thank goodness. If I’d ever had to eat another boneless, skinless chicken breast again, I’m not sure I’d still be here today, fighting for the last piece of chicken skin!
- 1 chicken, giblets removed, about 3.5 lbs
- 3 tbl bacon fat, at room temperature, not melted
- 4 - 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 lemon
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Salt to taste
- Remove the chicken from the fridge at least half an hour beforehand, placing it on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.
- Preheat oven to 475F.
- Using a mini food processor, chop the garlic cloves, then add the ghee or bacon fat. Whip until combined.
- Zest the lemon and stir that into the garlic-fat mixture.
- Place the chicken into a roasting dish and use your hands to separate the skin from the chicken breast gently. Use ⅔ of the garlic-fat mixture, stuffing it beneath the chicken skin. Put the chicken skin back into place and spread the fat evenly across the breast.
- Squeeze the lemon juice over the top of the chicken. Stuff the lemon halves into the cavity - sometimes only one will fit - and add the rosemary sprigs.
- Use the remaining fat to rub over the outside of the chicken skin. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Put the chicken into the oven so that it is positioned in the middle. This may mean moving the oven rack from the middle to one rack below the middle to avoid the chicken touching the top of the oven.
- TURN THE OVEN DOWN TO 400F.
- Roast the chicken until done and a meat thermometer inserted into the breast reads 155F. This may take from 55 minutes to about 1 hour and 5 minutes.
- Remove chicken from the oven and rest it, covered, for 15 minutes before carving.
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