Lemon-Thyme Chicken

Lemon-Thyme Chicken

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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 65 minutes
Servings: 8
To infuse the chicken with delicious flavor, lemon slices and fresh thyme sprigs are tucked underneath the skin and also placed inside the body cavity. When separating the skin from the breast meat, take care not to tear the skin.


  • 1 chicken, 6 to 7 lb., giblets and neck removed
     from cavity
  • 7 or 8 thin lemon slices
  • 4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1⁄2 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock, plus
     more if needed
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour


About 30 minutes before roasting, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Preheat an oven to 450°F. Oil a roasting rack and place it in a roasting pan.

Remove and discard any pockets of fat from the chicken cavity. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. With the chicken placed breast side up and starting at the neck cavity, slip your fingers under the skin and gently separate the skin from the breast meat on both sides, being careful not to tear the skin. Carefully slide 4 or 5 lemon slices and half of the thyme sprigs under the skin, spacing them evenly. Season the cavity with salt and pepper, and place the remaining lemon slices and thyme in the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the back. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Rub the chicken all over with the butter. Place the chicken, breast side up, on the rack.

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Add the carrots, celery, onion and the 1 1/2 cups stock to the pan. Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, away from the bone, registers 170° to 175°F, 1 to 1 1D2 hours more. Remove from the oven. Slip a pair of tongs in the chicken cavity and carefully tip the bird, draining the liquid from the cavity into the pan. Transfer the chicken to a carving board and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan and pour the contents of the pan through a medium-mesh sieve into a large measuring pitcher. Using a spoon, press on the contents of the sieve to extract as much liquid as possible. Skim off and reserve 3 Tbs. fat, discarding the remainder. Add stock if needed to the pitcher to total 2 cups.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the reserved fat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly stir in the 2 cups liquid. Add any juices from the carving board. Cook, stirring constantly, until the gravy is smooth and thickens slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Carve the chicken and arrange on a warmed platter. Pour the gravy into a warmed bowl and pass at the table. Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Roasting, by Rick Rodgers, Melanie Barnard & Bob & Colleen Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2004).
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