Classic Roast Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Herbs
Recipe by Sarah Copeland @edibleliving
Roast chicken is perfect company food—you can make two, along with oodles of vegetables, and serve a big crowd with very little effort. Preserved lemons—salt-packed lemon halves that are cured for weeks—impart potent flavor and a bit of intrigue. Here, stuffing preserved lemons into the bird’s cavity yields juicy, fragrant flesh, while more on top seasons the skin and vegetables. And you’ll have plenty of juicy lemon left over for your guests to squeeze to their liking.
You don’t need a rack or fancy pan to roast a chicken—the onions and carrots work as a rack here. In return, the fat and paprika run off the chicken to flavor the vegetables beneath—a win-win situation! Serve the chicken whole, nestled on a platter with fresh herbs and more preserved lemons, and carve tableside.
Butcher’s Note from Paul Greenblatt: Bell & Evans whole chickens are small, flavorful, and roast up quickly. These birds are air-chilled, and never in water. The skin crisps nicely, and the flavor is consistent and never diluted. Make sure to let the chicken rest for 10 minutes to keep all of that juicy flavor in.
1 (4-pound) Bell & Evans whole chicken
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into rounds
2 small bunches young or baby carrots, scrubbed
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon fine salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup preserved lemon halves, quartered or sliced, plus more for serving
¼ cup melted butter
1 packed cup mixed fresh dill, parsley, and mint, roughly chopped
Fresh rosemary, sage, and bay leaves, for garnish
1. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a large bowl, toss together the olive oil, onions, and carrots. Spread the onions on a sheet pan, followed by the carrots. Roast for about 15 minutes, until soft and set aside.
2. Pat the chicken completely dry on all sides with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, salt, and pepper and spread the mixture all over the chicken, taking care to get it into all the creases. Stuff the cavity with 1 preserved lemon.
3. Place the chicken directly on the parcooked vegetables, skin side up. Tuck the remaining preserved lemon around the chicken and place some directly on the skin (to release their juices and add flavor). Drizzle the butter over the chicken and vegetables.
4. Roast until the chicken juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through (a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should read 165°F), 1 hour 15 minutes, basting or brushing the skin with the juices and fat once or twice during cooking. For the crispiest skin, increase the oven temperature to 500°F for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
5. Let the chicken rest until the juices redistribute around the meat, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken, vegetables, and lemons to a platter, scatter with the chopped herbs, and garnish with the rosemary, sage, and bay leaves. Carve and serve pieces of the chicken with some cooked onions and carrots, and garnished with more preserved lemon. Squeeze some warm preserved lemon over each plate, or let you guests help themselves.
If you’re entertaining, make two chickens and two batches of vegetables at the same time. Double the amounts of all the ingredients, and divide the vegetables and chickens onto two sheet pans. Increase the cooking time as needed. Serve nestled in a large platter. (Serves 8 to 12)