How to Roast a Chicken…like an adult.

Dinner, How-To

My google searches are crazy weird.

I mean…they mostly consist of food questions. And make-up questions. And fashion questions. But as of late…life questions? Yes, real life questions. Whenever something in real life confuses me, I turn to google…mainly for a laugh…and maybe I’m secretly hoping that life answers will pop-up within the first few sites. #sueme

Recent questions have included:

Are these my glory days (that’d be depressing); What to say/do when someone hurts your feelings (answer: buy pretty clothes, obvi); Do grownups believe in eyelash wishes (why wouldn’t you?!); At what age are adults supposed to have a real couch (no, but seriously am I supposed to have an adult couch by now?)…just to name a few…

All results (especially the google image results) are incredibly entertaining (and surprisingly educational).

(Have I told you I love using parenthesis?! Cause I totally do!!!)

All these “life” google searches bring me to this roast chicken.

Because I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there isn’t anything more adult than roasting a whole entire 4-pound chicken. This is totally a fact. I googled it. Duh.

There’s seasoning involved…tying it up in a (seemingly) complicated way, a good amount of cooking time and taking its temperature. You may wanna say, “ugh” and think it’s too complicated…but don’t worry, it’s super easy.

This recipe is as simple as it gets–it’s Marcella Hazan’s Lemon Chicken. One chicken, two lemons, salt and pepper. That’s it!

We got this. We totally do. Let’s be grown-ups!


Step 1: Take out the bag of giblets or–in my case–loose giblets.

P.S. “Giblets” is just a friendly word for guts. So yeah, take out its guts.

And wash it, inside and out.

Hey! You! Don’t use soap. Just water. That may sound silly, but I saw a preview of Real Housewives of Bev Hills and she did it…so just thought I’d throw that out there. No soap. Just water.

Step 2: Lay down a bed of paper towels and pat it dry. Let it sit for like 10 minutes and tip it over just to make sure all the water drains out. And then pat it dry again.

If it’s not super dry, it’s not gonna get that crispy skin you want–it’ll steam instead. Not cute. Not cute at all.

Step 3 & 4
(not pictured because I suck sometimes): Salt and pepper the chicken all over. And when I mean salt and pepper it, I don’t mean a little dash here and there. No. I mean: Go. To. Town. S&P is gonna make it taste awesome.

Next, take that skewer and poke a bunch of holes in the two lemons. Like as in twenty holes per lemon. This will allow all of the lemon juices to escape as it’s in the chicken. Oh yeah and then stick it in the chicken’s cavity a.k.a. body. Stick it in its body.

Step 5: Time to truss. First, tuck in the wings. Wait, why do we truss?!

We truss because it helps cook the chicken evenly. And it makes for pretty presentation. That’s all. The cooking evenly part is the most important.

Tuck in the wings.

Step 6: Take a piece of butcher’s twine (I used baker’s twine because I was too lazy to go to the store) and go under the chicken’s bottom. I did this for demonstrative purposes but it’s way easier if it’s facing you.

Under the chicken’s bottom, through the two legs.

Let me also take this moment to say that I’ve seen a few ways to truss a chicken. This way works for me. It’s super simple and keeps the whole thing together.

Step 7: Cross the two pieces of string. And then you’re gonna wrap the string over and under the two legs…

Step 8: After you come up around the legs, you’re going cross those two pieces of string and pull it snug.

Step 9: Pull it even tighter until the whole chicken is like a cute little cocoon.

Step 10:
Bring the string down the sides of the chicken. And tie a double knot right at its shoulders. This is when my camera was like, oh you’re trying to take step-by-step…well I’m just gonna take one shot out of focus.

Step 11: After you tie a knot at the shoulders, flip the chicken over and tie a last double knot right behind the neck bone.

If step-by-step pictures is too hard to follow, check out this video!

Step 12: Put the dude in a cast iron skillet and stick it in the oven. That’s it.

Well you have to check on it…blah blah blah. But for the most part, it’s all done!!

P.S. Now is a perrrrfect time to wash your hands.

The skin will be crispy and sorta salty (win!), the chicken will have a summery, lemoney flavor.

Perfect with a simple little salad, some simple potatoes, or something else super simple because the star of the show is the chicken, so don’t do something crazy with the side dish and totally outshine it!!

You just trussed a chicken!! Let it have its moment!!

How to Roast a Chicken

Recipe by the Marcella Hazan

Print this recipe!

3 to 4 pound chicken
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
2 rather small lemons

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Wash the chicken thoroughly in cold water, both inside and out. Remove all the bits of fat hanging loose. Let the bird sit for about 10 minutes on a slightly tilted plate (or paper towels) to let all the water drain out of it. Pat it thoroughly dry all over with paper towels.

3. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and black pepper on the chicken, rubbing it with your fingers over all its body and into its cavity.

4. Wash the lemons in cold water and dry them with a towel. Soften each lemon by placing it on a counter and rolling it back and forth as you put firm downward pressure on it with the palm of your hand. Puncture the lemons in at least 20 places each, using a sturdy round toothpick, a trussing needle, a sharp-pointed fork, or similar implement.

5. Place both lemons in the birds cavity. (Adrianna Note: Truss the chicken using the steps above.) Or you can do as Marcella Hazan explains: Close up the opening with toothpicks or with trussing needle and string. Close it well, but don’t make an absolutely airtight job of it because the chicken may burst. Run kitchen string from one leg to the other, tying it at both knuckle ends. Leave the legs in their natural position without pulling them tight. If the skin is unbroken, the chicken will puff up as it cooks, and the string serves only to keep the thighs from spreading apart and splitting the skin.

6. Put the chicken into a roasting pan (Adrianna Note: I used a cast iron skillet), breast facing down. Do not add cooking fat of any kind. This bird is self-basting, so you need not fear it will stick to the pan (Adrianna Note: I found this to be untrue if using a cast iron skillet. Next time I’ll add a piece of parchment to the bottom). Place it in the upper third of the preheated oven. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken over to have the breast face up. When turning it, try not to puncture the skin. If kept intact, the chicken will swell like a balloon, which makes for an arresting presentation at the table later. Do not worry too much about it, however, because even if it fails to swell, the flavor will not be affected.

7. Cook for another 30 to 35 minutes, then turn the oven thermostat up to 400 degrees, and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Calculate between 20 and 25 minutes total cooking time for each pound. There is no need to turn the chicken again.

8. Adrianna Note: I think resting chicken, or meat of any kind is really important. So after it’s done cooking, let it chill on the counter for 10 minutes. This will allow for all the juices to settle.

9. Whether your bird has puffed up or not, bring it to the table whole and leave the lemons inside until it is carved and opened. The juices that run out are perfectly delicious. Be sure to spoon them over the chicken slices. The lemons will have shriveled up, but they still contain some juice; do not squeeze them, they may squirt.

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  • Reply Holley October 10, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I just made my first ever roast chicken and used this recipe and it was so smooth and simple! the only hard part was stuffing a lemon inside of chickie’s body, i felt bad & indecent 🙁

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