Ina's Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken

Saturday 16 May 2020

I totally adore Roast Chicken.  Its not something we had very often when I was a child, but a rare treat. I remember reading a book from the school library called "Chicken Every Sunday." 

It was a book about a boarding house and the landlady cooked a roast chicken every Sunday.  Ever the foodie I guess, I used to long for a roast chicken in our house every Sunday!

The recipe I am sharing today was adapted from the Ina Garten cookbook entitled Cooking For Jeffrey.  I bought my first Ina Garten book back in 2003 when I was hired to cook at the Manor.  

I think it was her party one.  I wanted to be able to cook American as the family I worked for was American.  I fell in love with Ina's recipes and style of cookery.

I have gone on to collect about 10 of her cookery books through the years, which is by no means the full extent of what she has published, but I am happy with what I have.  

I have somewhat of a cookbook addiction.  (Amongst my many other loves!)

The first cookery book I feel in love with was my mother's Money Saving Cookbook by Ida Bailey Allen. 

Mom finally ended up giving it to me and it is considered to be one of my most valued treasures.

This is somewhat of an unusual recipe.  It is so delicious. You begin by spatchcocking a chicken and making a herbed olive oil.  

You can see my tutorial on spatchcocking a chicken here.   It is really very easily done.  A good pair of kitchen scissors makes the job a breeze. 

Sliced lemon and onion, along with some garlic are placed in a deep oven proof skillet and the butterflied chicken is placed on top, after brushing it thoroughly on the underside with some of the herbed olive oil mixture.

The herb mixture is made from fresh thyme leaves and dried fennel seed.  I ground it in my coffee grinder, but she recommends a small blender.  

This gets mixed with salt and black pepper before stirring it into a good olive oil.

You brush the remainder of the herbed olive oil over top of the chicken.  And then you roast it in a very hot oven.

The temperature is pretty much as hot as my oven will go.  It cooks very quickly.  

Half an hour on the high temperature and then you add some white wine to the skillet and cook it for 15 to 20  minutes longer.

You will know when it is done.  The legs will twist easily and the juices run clear.  It will have a temperature of  72*C/150-160*F at its thickest point.

You squeeze the juice of a whole lemon over top of the chicken, cover the dish tightly with foil and then let it rest for a time.  

Just long enough for you to get any sides in place that you may want to serve.

This is not a chicken with crisp skin  . . .  but it is a chicken with oodles of delicious flavour  . . .  so tender and  moist  . . .  succulent to the N-th degree . . .

This is roast chicken to write home about  . . .  to dream about . . .

This is the roast chicken you will find yourself wanting to make again and again  . . .  I am not surprised that Jeffrey loves it.

We love it too  . . . we REALLY loved it too!

It was fabulous with the pan juices and some of the lemon and onion spooned over top.  I mashed the lemon up a bit . . .  oh boy, but it was some good!


Ina's Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken

Yield: 4
This is probably one of the most delicious roast chickens I have ever tasted. Adapted from a recipe in Ina Garten's cookbook entitled "Cooking for Jeffrey."


  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp whole fennel seed
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 80ml extra virgin olive oil (1/3 cup)
  • 1 whole lemon, plus the juice of one lemon
  • 1 onion, peeled and then sliced into half moons
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 (4-pound) roasting chicken, backbone removed, and spatchcocked
  • 120ml dry white wine (1/2 cup) (Pinot Grigio recommended)


  1. Preheat the oven to 230*C/450*F/ gas mark 7.  Have ready a  deep oven proof skillet (or baking dish), large enough to hold everything. (I used my 10-inch cast iron skillet.)
  2. Place the fresh thyme leaves, fennel seed, 1 TBS of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper into a mini food processor or spice grinder.    Process until ground. I did mine very fine. You can leave it a bit coarser if you want.  Measure out the olive oil and then stir the herb mixture into it.
  3. Slice the whole lemon in half from top to bottom.  Lop off both ends and discard.  Cut the halves crosswise  into 1/4 inch thick halfmoons.  Place these into the bottom of the skillet.  Top with the sliced onion and the garlic.
  4. Spatchcock your chicken.  You can freeze the neck to make stock at a later date.  Brush the underside of your chicken all over with the herb/olive oil mixture.  Place skin side up on top of the lemons and onions.  Pat dry.  Brush all over with the remaining herb/olive oil mixture.
  5. Roast in the preheated oven for half an hour.  Pour the white wine into the skillet around the edge, missing the chicken.  Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken tests done. (leg should move easily in it socket, juices run clear and temperature in the thickest part measure at 72*C/155-160*F
  6. Remove the chicken from the oven. Sprinkle it with the juice from the other lemon.  Cover tightly with aluminium foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  Quarter the chicken, or cut into 8ths.  Sprinkle with some salt and serve hot with some of the pan juices, lemon and onions spooned over top.  Delicious!

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I served it simply with some roasted potatoes, carrots and peas.  It went down a real treat. So much so that I couldn't wait until Sunday to share it with you.  You NEED to make this.  If you love roast chicken and you love lemons, prepared to fall totally and completely in love with this recipe.  I guarantee!  

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  1. Oh, I do love both roast chicken and lemon together. I often cut a lemon in quarters and place in the cavity of the chicken. I roast my chicken in a covered blue enamal roasting pan for two hours at 350. It is falling off the bone delicious and the lemon melts in your mouth but still has a bite to it. I have most of Ina's books, too. Did you know she has a new one coming out on October 6th called "Modern Comfort Food"? I'm looking forward to it. Enjoy your weekend, you too. Take care of each other. Love and hugs, Elaine

    1. I didn't know she had a new one coming out! How exciting. I will have to be on the lookout for it! Your roast chicken sounds fabulous! I think chicken lemon and garlic are the trinity of great taste! Love and hugs, xoxo

  2. I would love to make this (i'm drooling) but alas my husband hates anything that tastes of lemon, except lemon meringue pie. So not even lemon drizzle cake for me, boo hoo!

    1. Aww that's too bad Eleanor. In all truth without the sauce poured over top the chicken isn't overly lemon flavoured. Todd hates anything lemon (even pie!) and he really enjoyed this. xoxo

  3. I love the sound of this and will definitely be making it soon. Yum!

    1. I guarantee you and Lars will love this Marie! xoxo

  4. I make the original version of this with leeks and fennel on a regular basis, especially in cold weather months. It's wonderful. I'm so glad to see this adaptation you've made and I see myself tweaking in a bit more to come up with a stove top version. Where I live it's unpleasant to 'fire' up the oven in hot weather. Love what you do, Miss Marie.

    1. I haven't seen tha version Dee! It sounds lovely! Thank you so much for your sweet comment! xoxo

  5. I assume you add the garlic to the herb/oil mixture?

    1. NO, it goes with the onion underneath the chicken. I hope you will try this and that you enjoy it! Ina's recipes are pretty foolproof! xo


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