This method of roasting chicken changed my life. Tender, fall-of-the-bone, fragrant and full of the good things in cooking; lemon, garlic and herbs. No more basting, cleaning the oven or worrying about a dry roast – you simply place a quickly prepared chicken into the oven, forget about it for 1 1/2 hours or so, then take the lid off for a bit of browning.
Recipe for dutch oven roast chicken with lemon and herbs:
1 whole chicken, cleaned and trimmed
1 lemon, halved
5-6 large garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
Grapeseed or olive oil (not extra virgin)
Tuscan herb seasoning (dried fennel, basil, rosemary, garlic and oregano)
1 tspn lemon zest (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
Preheat oven to 180C. Place chicken into large Dutch oven or similar cast iron casserole dish with a lid.
With small, sharp knife make a few small slices over the body and legs of the chicken. Insert pieces of garlic into each opening. Place 1/2 the lemon and the rest of the garlic pieces in the cavity of the chicken and the other half of the lemon into the Dutch oven. Drizzle oil over chicken and sprinkle on herbs, zest and seasoning – massage into chicken.
Cover then roast for an hour.
Remove pan from the oven, increase the temperature to 200C, drain the juices (be careful as the pan is very heavy) and place back into the oven uncovered (see note) – roast for another 30 minutes to brown. This will depend on the size of the chicken obviously – as a guide, a 1.5kg whole stuffed chicken takes about 30 minutes per 500g of weight to cook in an oven preheated to 180°C (reference: taste.com.au). It will also depend on how hot your oven runs so keep an eye on it.
To check the chicken’s done, insert a skewer in the biggest part of the thigh and if clear juice runs out (no pink), it’s cooked through.
Serve with vegetables of your choice.
Note: draining the juices from the bottom of the pan at this point reduces moisture at the base of the chicken. It’s not strictly necessary but I prefer to do this.