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Lemon & Garlic Butter Roasted Chicken

T. Rex loves crispy chicken skin and this recipe delivers. I slather butter under the skin and place the chicken on a rack to allow the air to circulate around it—the chicken bastes from the inside. The meat is incredibly moist while the skin becomes crunchy.

The rack I use for this recipe is the kind that doubles as a cooling rack but with one important difference: it’s oven-safe (many are not so check with your manufacturer). I place the rack on a half-sheet pan which is just deep enough to catch the juices.

If you don’t have an oven-safe rack, place the chicken in a roasting pan. You’ll still get crispy skin.

You’ll find the recipe for the roasted veggies that you see in the photo in the Don’t Freak Out! section below.

One 3 - 4 pound chicken, cleaned and patted dry

4 TBS unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated or minced

2 - 3 tsp salt

1 - 2 tsp pepper

1 small bunch of fresh parsley

1 lemon, washed and dried

4 cloves of garlic (there is no reason to peel)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Chop 1 TBS of the fresh parsley and leave the rest whole. Set aside.

Slice the lemon into 6 thin slices. Quarter the rest of the lemon. Set aside.

Using a fork, mash the softened butter. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the garlic and 1 TBS of fresh parsley and mix well. Set aside.

Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the breast and the legs of the chicken but do not detach it. Sprinkle the meat evenly with salt and pepper. Spread the garlic butter evenly on the breast and leg meat. Tuck one slice of lemon under the skin of each leg. Tuck two slices of lemon under the skin of each breast. Gently pull the skin over the lemons. If the skin tears, don’t worry about it—simply patch it together.

Sprinkle the outside of the chicken and inside the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the 4 cloves of garlic, the remaining parsley and the quartered lemon into the cavity.

Tuck the wings under the chicken and tie the legs together with kitchen twine (although it’s not necessary; sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t). Place the chicken breast side up on an oven-proof baking rack placed on a sheet pan or in a large roasting pan.

Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and roast for ½ hour. At this point, the chicken should be golden brown. Cover the chicken loosely with aluminum foil and return to the oven for an additional 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees and the juices run clear.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Keep it covered with the aluminum foil and set aside for 10 minutes.

If you’ve tied the legs, cut the twine and discard. Carve the chicken into your favorite bits and serve.

Don’t Freak Out!

1) To make the roasted vegetables: Wash, trim, and cut 6 carrots and 6 yellow potatoes into equal-sized pieces. Pat the vegetables dry with a paper towel or lint-free kitchen towel. Place the vegetables evenly on a sheet pan. Drizzle 2 – 3 TBS olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle with 1 – 2 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper (or to taste). Massage the oil and seasonings into the vegetables. Scatter 6 unpeeled garlic cloves (or more or less if you’d like) around the vegetables. Halfway during the cooking time for the chicken, place the pan of vegetables on the lower rack and roast for 20 -25 minutes, or until the vegetables are golden and move easily in the pan. Stir the vegetables and return to the oven for another 20 – 25 minutes or until the vegetables are caramelized, sweet, and fork-tender but not mushy. Remove the pan from the oven and serve with the chicken.

You can also cook the chicken on top of the vegetables themselves. Place the vegetables into a roasting pan, prepare as above, and place the chicken on top. Follow the roasting instructions for the chicken.

2) You can serve the chicken with mashed potatoes, root vegetable purée, rice pilaf, greens (Swiss chard, kale, or spinach sautéed with garlic, butter and olive oil) and beans (green beans with almonds, spicy green beans, black-eyed peas, fava beans or lima beans would all be nice).

3) You can use the carcass of the roasted chicken to make a lightly lemony and garlicky chicken stock. Place the chicken into a large soup pot. Roughly chop two carrots, two stalks of celery and one large onion (no need to peel) and add them to the pot. Add two bay leaves and 1 tsp black peppercorns. Cover with 12 cups of water. Bring the stock to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Stir occasionally and skim any fatty foam that rises to the top and discard. Remove the stock from the heat and cool. Skim any additional fat that has collected on the top and discard. Strain the stock through a fine sieve. Discard the carcass and vegetables.

Store the stock covered in the refrigerator for up to a week or place in freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to six months. Use for soups, gravies, sauces, or to reheat leftover rice or risotto, mashed potatoes, chicken or turkey.

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