Peppered Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Autumn Vegetables
The nights are releasing their grip of their clenching fists of daytime warm air. Visually, there’s not much evidence of fall in Texas. The long dry summer sucked the moisture out of the limbs and leaves of even the heartiest of flora. There was a lack of lush flowers and bushes since the middle of spring. Bluebonnets suffered a short growing season and I have no fields of blue dotting my recent collection of digital photographs. The land remains stagnant, waiting for water to return.
This subtle change in the night air is like a whisper from the far north, the snow-capped mountains sleeping through the summer. Winter and hopefully rain will be here soon.
October must be the best month during fall. Not only do we see and feel the changes of autumn, it’s also Little Sister’s birthday and Halloween. Double the chances to have excuses to bake treats for the family! October is also then month of Thanksgiving in my native land. I often observe the holiday abroad with a whole roasted chicken, or if I’m feeling ambitious enough, a turkey.
This year I was inspired by what was waiting in the fridge: lemons and fresh rosemary, assorted vegetables, and a whole chicken. With minor preparation, you can have a warm succulent chicken bursting with citrus and piney rosemary.
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 small lemons, zested and halved
- 1 white or yellow onion, halved lengthwise
- 1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 3-4 small zucchini squash, halved lengthwise
- 2 tomatoes, halved
- 2 carrots, cut into manageable pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- oregano or Italian herb blend, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.
Start by preparing the vegetables and arranging them on a baking sheet. Give them a rub with olive oil then sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano. Set this aside.
Combine the butter, lemon zest, about a tablespoon of rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Prepare the chicken by removing the gibblets and washing the bird inside and out. Pluck any pieces of feather that might remain. Using paper towel, pat the skin dry. The drier the skin the crispier it will be. Tuck the lemon butter between the skin and the meat, all over the breasts and drumsticks. You can save a bit of the butter to smear over the skin or use olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper generously.
The chicken I used was 4 and a half pounds, and it was ready in about 75 minutes. Always have a thermometer handy while roasting, the thickest part of the thigh meat needs to be 180ºF and juices running clear (i.e. no pink hue). Cover the chicken for the first 45 minutes, then remove the lid or foil for the last part of the roasting time to get a crispbrown skin.
The veggie tray will take about 30 minutes to soften and get a hint of brown caramel around the edges.
Arrange the chicken and vegetables on a platter and sprinkle with rosemary as a garnish.
Look for a dressing in an upcoming post to serve alongside the chicken or a turkey!
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