Elaine’s Roast Chicken

  • Prep Time

    10 minutes

  • Cook Time

    1 hour

  • Serves

    4-6 servings

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  • 2 small lemons
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter at room temperature
  • 1 3 1/2-4 lb chicken rinsed and patted dry
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 bunch bunch thyme
  • 1/2 bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 bunch fresh tarragon
  • 1 tsp flat leaf parsley chopped finely


  1. With rack in the center of the oven, preheat to 425 degrees.
  2. Trim any loose fat and clip off the last joint of the wing (it is small and will always burn.)
  3. In a large, shallow bowl, put the olive oil, butter, salt and pepper and herbs, chopped roughly. (Leave thyme, tarragon and rosemary stems whole, for easy removal later.)
  4. Place the bird in the bowl and rub all over, inside and out, with the oil mix.
  5. While you are doing this, heat the well-washed lemons in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  6. Tie the drumsticks together at the ends, crossing them if necessary. Place the chicken on the grill rack, breast side down.
  7. With a hot pad and thick dish towel, remove the lemons from the microwave and pierce a couple of times with a knife. Stuff them into the cavity. (Heating the lemons help them to permeate the bird and also starts heating the bird from the inside.)
  8. Set the roasting pan in the oven. Fifteen minutes later, carefully turn the bird over, to breast side up, and return to oven, now dropped to 350 degrees.
  9. Roast for an hour, basting with the extra oil mix at half an hour, or more often if desired. For a finer, browned skin, brush with just-melted butter.
  10. Allow bird to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
To make a pan sauce
  1. Remove any vegetables from the roasting pan and pour in 1/2 cup dry vermouth. Put it on a burner on top of the stove and reduce to a sauce, scraping the brown bits. When the consistency is right, pour it into a sauce boat or directly over the chicken.
Additional Tips

A chicken is done when the joints are loose, meaning the connective tissue has melted. The juices will be clear with no hint of pink. (Check inside the thigh joint, the densest part of the bird.)