Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken

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This is a basic roast chicken recipe done right. It’s as simple as that.


Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken (4½ pounds), wing tips removed, preferably organic
  • ¼ cup non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine, room temperature
  • 1 large lemon, washed, zested and and cut in half
  • 2 clementines, washed, zested and cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
  • ½ small onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs (about 20)
  • 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Optional Roux:

  • ¼ cup non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a roasting pan with 2 layers of foil. Place a roasting rack on top and set aside (see Kitchen Tips).
  2. Mix the margarine, lemon and clementine zest and 1 teaspoon salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the chicken on a cutting board, breast side up. Carefully slide your fingers between the skin and the meat along the breast to separate it, but keep the skin on the chicken. Rub the margarine under the skin, to coat the meat. Wash your hands with hot soapy water.
  4. In the following order, place the lemon, then the thyme, then 1 zested clementine, the parsley, the onion and the remaining clementine into the cavity of the bird. Truss the chicken with kitchen twine. Sprinkle the remaining salt and the pepper over the skin and rub it in.
  5. Place the chicken on the rack in the prepared pan and roast for 20 minutes. Wash your hands, work area, and cutting board with hot soapy water to prevent cross-contamination.
    Pull the oven rack out carefully and add the chicken broth to the pan. (The chicken will sit on the rack above the liquid.) Slide the rack back in and continue roasting the chicken for 25 to 30 minutes longer, until the juices run clear from the meaty part of the thigh, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reaches the internal temperature of 160°F. Remove from the oven.
  6. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving to retain it’s juiciness. Remove and discard the fruit, herbs and onion.
  7. If you are going to serve the pan juices, carefully pour them into a fat-separating measuring cup ( hyperlink) and pour off the juices into a gravy boat, leaving the fat behind. If you want to make a more traditional gravy, make a roux by melting ¼ cup margarine in a pan set over medium heat, add ¼ cup flour, and cook, stirring, until the mixture takes on the consistency of a paste and is pale blond in color. Add all of the juices (not the fat) from the cooking, stir until thickened and serve hot with the chicken.

Kitchen Tips

  • Trussing a chicken helps it to keep its shape, and keeps the heat of the oven from from drying out the breast meat too much. It’s also useful it you are going to use a rotisserie, as it keeps the legs and wings in place. And don’t be intimidated: It sounds much more complicated than it is. To truss a chicken, cut about 3 feet of butcher’s twine. Place the chicken on a work surface with the cavity facing you. Slide the twine under the chicken, positioning it so that it runs from left to right with, just under the chicken’s tailbone, aka, the tush (or where it tailbone used to be pre-butchering), with equal lengths of twine on either side of the bird. Lift the ends of the twine, looping it around the chicken’s legs as if you were wrapping a package; cross the ends of the twine over the legs and pull tightly to bring the legs together and close off the cavity. Then bring the ends of the twine up sides of the chicken carcass toward the neck cavity, catching the wings with the twine to secure them. Tie the twine at the neck cavity and trim and discard any remaining long ends of the twine.
  • Keeping a kosher chicken moist on the inside while allowing the skin to become golden brown and crispy can be tricky, but there are some simple steps you can take to get the best out of your bird. First, truss it; by sealing off the cavity, there’s less exposure of the breast meat to the drying heat of the oven. Filling the cavity with an onion and/or a lemon or other citrus fruit also keeps moisture in and has the added benefit of flavoring the drippings nicely. Next, roast the bird for 20 minutes on a rack in the roasting pan and let it cook in the dry heat; then pour some stock into the pan for the remainder of the roasting time. The chicken, sitting on the rack, won’t get mushy, and there will be lots of moisture in the oven to keep the meat moist. Technically, this method is neither braising nor roasting; it is a steam roasting, which is what happens with rotisserie-roasted birds when they are done well–you can see the moisture on the outside of most rotisseries. Another thing you can do is to let the chicken rest (meaning don’t carve it) for 20 minutes after you remove it from the oven; this, too, will keep the meat nice and juicy. By the way, many folks have been brining birds as of late and it’s often discussed in the food media. Kosher birds are already well salted. My preference is to use organic kosher, and when I can find it, happily pay the premium for free-range organic. It’s not just about being humane—the taste is very different. I vote with my chicken-spending dollars on how I want my chicken raised; since it is kosher, I vote on how it becomes food. I encourage you to give that some thought at the counter and ask your butcher. You never know what they can find for a happy, paying customer.

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