Last week I found myself with some lemons and limes that had seen better day. So, I thawed out a whole chicken that had been hibernating in the freezer for a while and decided to make a "classic" Sunday supper: citrus herbed roast chicken. The secret here is the herbed butter under the skin. If you put it on top of the skin it just melts off Mr. Chicken and burns in the bottom of the pan. Again, I did not invent this concept, I just know that it works awesomely. I probably got the idea from my secret best friend, Rachael Ray. Secret as in she doesn't actually know that I exist. But one day she will, and then we will be best friends! Annnnnyyyyway, back to the bird:
1 medium whole chicken, rinsed and cleaned (go to your happy place and think of the yummy end result), and patted dry
1-2 assorted citrus fruits, thinly sliced and zested. I used 1 large lemon and 1 large lime.
3-4 large cloves of garlic, divided
2-4 T butter
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
To make compound butter: Combine 1/2 garlic, butter, herbs, citrus zest, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Use a fork to smoosh it all together. Don't melt the butter, you want it to be semi solid for "stuffing."
With your fingers (again, go to your happy place), separate the skin from the breast, thighs, wherever you can make a little pocket, and shove in some pats of the herbed butter. Slip a few slices of citrus under the skin with the butter and smooth it all out. If you have any citrus left, put it inside the chicken cavity with the reserved onion and garlic. I also tucked a couple of slices under his wings and tossed a couple more on top...it was a large lemon. Pat any remaining butter all around the chicken and season with extra black pepper. At this point, if you are more talented than me, you can "truss" the chicken by tying his little legs and wings close against his body. If you are lazy like I am, you will place him breast up on the roasting pan (with rack) and just tuck his little legs and wings under his body. The point is to get everything to cook evenly by not having the limbs flopping around and burning while the rest of him is slowly cooking. So, once your bird has been poked, prodded, and seasoned in every way possibly and you are sick of the sight of him, toss him in the oven at 350 for 1 1/2-2 hours. After 90 minutes, pull him out and wiggle his leg. If it wiggles loosely and easily, chances are he is done. Or, you can inspect the "juices" coming out of him and see if they are clear. Either way, cook until he's cooked!
When he is about 45 minutes from being finished (after about an hour or so), toss some veggies with a drizzle of olive oil, pepper and herbes de provence. I used carrots, onions, and portabella mushrooms. Add them on a baking sheet to the oven with the chicken.
You should have enough left over for sandwiches, enchiladas, or soup.