Best Roast Chicken with Thyme Lemon Sauce

27 Mar

Roast Chicken with Thyme Lemon SauceAlthough I have written about keeping meal preparations simple, and one of the most basic, quick and delicious recipes is whole roasted chicken, I always seem to struggle with it.  So until I discovered this roast-in-the-frying-pan method, I would not have been one to post confidently about roast chicken.  The biggest challenge I have is getting it to cook evenly.  The temperature probe, which usually is a great support, doesn’t help much because I’m not sure where exactly the placement should be in the inner thigh.  But, regardless of my minor doubts about the number of steps and level of detail in some of Chris Kimball’s Cooks Illustrated recipes, this one is easy and a winner.  Great for a weeknight meal, but the sauce elevates it to company status.

Best Roast Chicken


For chicken

  • 1 (3 1/2 to 4 lb) whole chicken
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or softened butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or seasoning salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 lemon quarters
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed whole to remove skin
  • Herb Springs, like rosemary, thyme or sage (or a combination)
  • Seasoning Salt and Black Pepper

For Thyme Lemon Sauce

  • 1 shallot
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (or rosemary, sage or tarragon)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Pepper


For chicken

  1. Adjust the oven rack to its middle position and place a 12-inch ovenproof skillet on the rack to pre-heat.
  2. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Clean the chicken and pat dry thoroughly with a paper towel.
  4. Rub the entire surface with the oil or butter.
  5. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.
  6. Place the lemon, garlic and herbs into the bird’s cavity.
  7. Tie the legs together with twine and tuck the wings behind back.
  8. Transfer the chicken breast-side up to the pre-heated skillet. Careful when handling the hot skillet.
  9. Roast the chicken until the breasts are 120 degrees and the thighs 135 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes. *
  10. Turn off the oven and leave the chicken in for another 25 to 35 minutes, until the breasts register 160 degrees and the thighs 175. *
  11. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest, uncovered, for 10-20 minutes.

For Thyme Lemon Sauce

  1. While the chicken rests, remove all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet, leaving any fond and jus in the skillet.
  2. Place over medium heat, add shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in broth and mustard, scraping skillet bottom with wooden spoon to loosen fond.
  4. Simmer until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 3 minutes.
  5. Off heat, whisk in butter, thyme and lemon juice.
  6. Season with pepper to taste.
  7. Cover and keep warm.

* I measure the breast temperature, inserting the probe in the thickest part and going as close to the bone as possible.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated



2 Responses to “Best Roast Chicken with Thyme Lemon Sauce”

  1. trialsinfood March 27, 2013 at 4:06 am #

    that chicken looks marvelous!

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