Roast Lemon Chicken

Thursday 31 January 2013

I think that the one protein we eat most of all in this house is chicken, followed closely by fish and then only rarely do we eat red meat.  Quite the opposite of when I was growing up where beef was the protein of choice and fish and chicken only rare treats.

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I can still remember how excited we would be when my mother would make us Maryland Fried Chicken Breasts for supper, an occasion which happened at the very most possibly twice during the year.   Oh my, how delicious it was . . . she would dip the chicken breasts into egg and cracker crumbs and then fry it until it  was golden brown and oh so tasty.  We always had it with mashed potatoes and gravy.  Luvy Jubbly, as Del Boy would say.

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I think chicken is much more affordable now than it was when I was growing up.   I  believe it was Herbert Hoover who promised Americans that if he became President there would be a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.   This was back before the Great Depression.    I know not if he succeeded in putting a chicken in every pot . . . but he did become President.  I strongly suspect that he didn't, as the great Stock Market Crash of 1929 plunged the world into financial chaos just seven months later, and he was not elected for a second term.   Oh the fickleness of politics.

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I do so love chicken though . . . It's incredibly versatile and so easy to prepare.    It lends itself to a multitude of flavours and methods of preparation.   Most of all I love it roasted . . . so that the skin gets all crisp and somewhat sticky . . . whilst the meat inside stays moist and tender.

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This is a fabulous method of roasting chicken quickly.   It involves removing the back bone and flattening it prior to roasting at a high temperature.   The lemon flavour comes in via a rub of lemon zest, sugar and salt which you gently rub beneath the skin of the breast and the thigh . . . and in the delicious braising liquid which is poured around the chicken as it roasts.

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The braising liquid is then defatted, reduced and slightly thickened to produce a delicious sauce which is spooned over this tender chicken to serve.   Do not mistake it for gravy.   Gravy it is  not.   It is a rich and luscious sauce which just makes something which is so very simple . . . extraordinary!

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*Roast Lemon Chicken*
Serves 3 to 4
Printable Recipe

Bake this in an enamel roasting pan, as using an aluminum pan may cause an off flavour from the lemon juice.  Deliciously tender chicken with bright fresh flavours.

1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) whole chicken, giblets removed and discarded
the finely grated zest of 3 large lemons, plus 80ml of lemon juice (1/3 cup)
1 tsp sugar
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500ml of low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp corn flour
3 TBS butter
1 TBS finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 230*C/475*F/ gas mark 8.  Have ready a large enamel roasting tin.

Pat the chicken dry and then using sharp kitchen scissors, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it.   Flatten out with the palm of your hand, pressing it down firmly, and tucking the wing tips behind the back.  Using your fingers, very carefully loosen the skin covering the breast and thighs.   Combine the lemon zest, sugar, and 1 tsp of salt in a small bowl.   Rub 2 TBS of the zest mixture beneath the skin of the chicken.  Season all over with salt and pepper on the outsides and transfer to the roasting tin.

Whisk the broth, 1 cup of water and the remaining lemon zest mixture together in a beaker.  Pour into the roasting tin around the chicken.   If the liquid doesn't reach the skin of the thighs, then add a bit more water.   Roast in the heated oven until the skin is golden brown and the meat juices run clean when gently pricked with a fork.  This will take 40 to 45 minutes.   Transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest for 20 minutes. 

Pour the liquid from the pan along with any chicken juices into a saucepan.  (you should have about 375ml/1 1/2 cups)  Skim off any fat and discard.   Cook over medium high heat until it reduces to about 250ml/1 cup.  Whisk the corn flour together with 1 TBS of water and whisk into the saucepan, whisking constantly and simmering until it thickens slightly.  Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.   Carve the chicken and serve, passing the sauce at the table.


  1. If there is a more homely, comforting smell than that of a chicken roasting in the oven, then I haven't found it yet!

  2. Whenever I come to your blog I remember that fun jingle I used to hear!

    Your recipes are wonderful and I will be printing!

  3. Love roasted chicken. When I lived in Maryland there was something called "broasted" chicken on some of the local diner menues. It was sort of cross between baked and roasted...whatever, it was wonderful!

  4. Love this post. The pictures are wonderful. Now I'm hungry for some chicken.

  5. Thanks everyone. It really is quite, QUITE delicious!

  6. I looooove chicken. I could go the rest of my life without beef if I needed to, but I would miss chicken terribly! I'm so squeamish about handling it though, lol!! I'd have to make Stephen take out the backbone for me, but it certainly looks like it would be worth it! Besides, he loves it when I ask him to be all manly in the kitchen... Beating things. Chopping things, etc. :)
    Love, April


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