CZ cooks: perfectly roasted lemon chicken

By Claudia Zapata | 2013-09-20 00:43:27 | 7 Comments

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I have several go-to dishes – the ones I confidently turn to both because I know I can prepare them with little chance of having to call for pizza later, and because my family and friends always reach for more.

My roasted lemon chicken is the go-to of all my go-tos.  It’s crispy on the outside and juicy and flavorful inside, and whether I make it for two or twelve, this bird is the word (sorry, I had to).

It wasn’t always this way. I wasted many years and even more chickens trying to figure out how best to season chicken – until a chef and friend told me the secret to juicy chicken was less about the right spices and more about the right oven temperature.

Cook the chicken on HI, he said, until it looks brown and crispy and then, allow the chicken to finish cooking at rest.

That’s it.

I use a meat thermometer and begin testing the meat about 15 minutes after resting (it should read 160 degrees), and the seemingly simple strategy just works.

The other key is fresh chicken – I buy pasture-raised chicken on the same day I’m going to prepare it.

Finally, any marinade will work with this approach, but a few hours of my marinade is good. Really good. I never measure the ingredients, so don’t get too caught up in exact amounts. Do make enough chicken for seconds.


2 pounds fresh chicken, cut up
extra virgin olive oil
2-3 fresh lemons, washed
several sprigs of fresh rosemary
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed.


Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Rub the skin with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Place in a large Ziploc bag (or two, depending on amount) and drizzle with enough olive oil to coat all the chicken. Squeeze the juice of the lemons into the bag (remove the seeds first) and drop in the rinds. Add the crushed garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs. Seal the bag(s) well and move the chicken in the bag so the marinade ingredients are well dispersed. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours but up to 8.

Heat oven to 475-500 degrees. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan, skin side up. Place in the oven and cook, uncovered, until the skin looks crispy (about 20-30 minutes depending on the amount of chicken and your oven). Lower the oven temperature to 150 degrees and allow the chicken to finish cooking at rest (another 15-25 minutes). Test the temperature by inserting a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast. It should read 160 degrees.

Using a turkey baster, baste the chicken with some au jus, and serve immediately.




7 responses to “CZ cooks: perfectly roasted lemon chicken”

  1. Monica Z. Notzon says:

    I have been fortunate to assist in the preparation (very simple) and sampling of this dish several times at casa Elliott and it is some of the best chicken I’ve tasted!!!

  2. Paulo Glikas says:

    Claudia’s very simple to follow recipe always comes out perfect. I’ve had this dish several times, and my wife loves to cook it herself. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Susan says:

    Very simple, yet delicious. My daughter actually said “good chicken, Mom”. The smaller pieces were tastier as they absorbed more marinade, but overall so moist and yummy.

  4. Anna McKeel says:

    Claudia, It is very delicious and easy!!! I will definitely be making it for my next dinner party.

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cl Claudia Zapata, MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and fitness enthusiast who blogs about enjoying healthy eating and exercise. With recipes and wine selections, workouts for all levels, and everyday wellness tips, Claudia celebrates good health.
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