Make Ahead

Lemon and Onion Roast or Roasted Chicken

February 22, 2010
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

In asking several of my friends and family what dish they would remember me by, I got a number of different answers. Many loved my meat pie, and a few an Israeli chicken dish I have made for years and years. But the most meaningful comment came from my father, who recently died. My grandmother and then my dad taught me how to roast a chicken. They roasted them by the dozens for our almost exclusively Jewish guests at our hotel in Pennsylvania. One time when my dad and mom visited us, he asked me to make him roast chicken like he used to make it. When we sat down to this meal, the look on his face was priceless, and I will always remember him saying, "I taught you well!" But, he was tickled with all the vegetables that were roasted with the chicken, and the sliced onions under the skin, and the lemony fragrance. These supplements to a roast chicken were new to him. He was proud that he gave me the experience of a lifetime by watching him serve home cooked meals for the summer months of every year, and he loved that food is such a big part of our lives as a family, still. We serve this chicken as one of our holiday meals, including for Passover, and baking 2 chickens will amply serve 8 with two gorgeous carcasses for chicken stock. That's not to dismiss the fact that I roast this bird about every other week, once the weather is cool enough for me to crank up the oven. With all the vegetables of our choice intact in the pan, there is no need to make another dish for dinner.

If you are roasting this for two, leftovers easily become chicken curry, chicken pot pie with the addition of the leftover vegetables, and, finally, chicken soup.

NOTE: In addition to or in place of any of the vegetables listed, I have added turnips, large winter radishes, celeriac, sun chokes, shallots, brussels sprouts, and whole mushrooms. Many vegetables taste great when roasted with the chicken juices.

  • Prep time 35 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 portions
  • 3 large carrots, peeled
  • 3 parsnips, peeled
  • 1 fennel bulb, quartered
  • 2 handfuls fingerling potatoes
  • 1 large sweet onion, quartered
  • 1 sweet potato, cut in medium chunks
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) roasting chicken
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 sprigs thyme or rosemary
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 1 lemon
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Choose any of the vegetable selections in any combination you like. Cover the bottom of a 9" x 13" glass baking dish or roasting pan with the vegetables. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of olive oil over the vegetables. Use your hands to smear the vegetables thoroughly with the salt, pepper and oil.
  3. Thoroughly wash the chicken, and pat dry. Salt and pepper the chicken cavity, and throw in the garlic cloves and either rosemary or thyme as well. Place the chicken breast side up on top of the vegetables in the baking dish.
  4. Peel the onion and slice crosswise, keeping the onion slices intact, and making each slice about 1/4" to 1/3" wide. Basically you will have about 8 onion "plates" of various sizes.
  5. Run your hand under the breast skin, releasing the skin from the meat. Run your fingers under the legs as well to separate the skin from the meat.
  6. Take the larger onion segments and place them under the skin, 2 segments per side of the breast. Take the smaller onion segments and place them under the leg skin. Any remaining, loose onion slices can be thrown into the cavity.
  7. Slide 6 or 8 sage leaves under the skin, and you can place them on top of the onion slices. Conversely, you can place a sage leaf on each onion segment as you slide the onions under the skin.
  8. Cut the lemon in half, and squeeze the juice all over the chicken, working the lemon into the skin with your hands. Thrown the lemon halves into the cavity.
  9. Rub the remaining olive oil all over the chicken. Sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper over the bird.
  10. Place the bird in the middle of the oven. Baste the bird occasionally with the pan juices that accumulate. The chicken will be done in 80 to 90 minutes. Test the bird for doneness by wriggling the leg, and if the leg comes out of the joint easily the chicken is done.
  11. Let the chicken rest about 10 minutes before carving. To serve, place the chicken on a serving platter, surrounded by the roasted vegetables. Serve the jus on the side.

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Recipe by: Bevi

Cooking is an important part of my past. I grew up and worked on our family resort. These days, I cook good food to please my friends and family.