Monday, December 18, 2006

Salt, Pepper, Lemon, Basic Baked Chicken

Look at the crispy skin.

Salt, Pepper, Lemon Basic Baked Organic Chicken 1

And moist breast meat.

Salt, Pepper, Lemon Basic Baked Organic Chicken 2

This is a very simple but always very moist, flavorful baked chicken recipe. How good? So good that even after already eating a full dinner, when my brother got home and smelled the chicken, he ate some more.

I usually only make this when whole chickens go on sale. This little 3-pound bird cost me $1.76. Otherwise, it's just easier to buy the store's rotisserie chickens.

December 9, 2008 Update: Since the photo below truly didn't show how great this recipe is, I've updated this post with new pictures using an organic chicken.

Salt, Pepper, Lemon, Basic Baked Chicken

Salt, Pepper, Lemon, Basic Baked Chicken
Adapted from Glamour Magazine's "engagement chicken," which was an adaptation from Marcella Hazan's "More Classic Italian Cooking." The original recipe was OK, but a bit bland so I've also added Judy Rodgers' "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" method of salt rubbing the chicken.

You'll need:
1 whole chicken
1 tsp salt per lb of chicken
Fresh ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon per lb of chicken, plus another couple of lemons for stuffing
6 garlic cloves, smashed
A few sprigs of rosemary

Optional: Cube potatoes or other root vegetables and place them around the chicken to roast and absorb excess juices.

Wash chicken and allow juices to drain. Rub salt all over inside and outside of bird. Let chicken sit at room temperature for about an hour to soak in the salt. You may cover the chicken with plastic wrap if you wish, but it's not necessary.

After one hour, drain off any excess juices and squeeze about 1/2 lemon for each pound of chicken. For a 3-pound bird, two lemons should be enough. Pour lemon juice all over outside and inside of chicken. Then grind fresh black pepper over surface of chicken.

Salt, Pepper, Lemon Basic Baked Organic Chicken 3

With a fork, deeply prick holes all over two lemons so that juices can drain out while cooking. Stuff lemons inside the cavity of the chicken. If you like tartness, you can also cut the pricked lemons in half so more of the juices drain out during cooking.

Cook chicken breast side down at 425 degrees for half an hour. Turn over so breast side is up, adjust temperature down to 325 degrees and cook for another hour until skin is crisp and golden.

Salt, Pepper, Lemon Basic Baked Organic Chicken 4

After the chicken is done, allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Otherwise, the juices will all run out.

The old picture showed a chicken cooked in my little Galloping Gourmet oven. The newer pictures show an organic chicken cooked in a normal oven.

Salt, Pepper, Lemon Basic Baked Organic Chicken 5

The lemon sauce at the bottom of the pan is also good for dipping the chicken if you really like food lemony.


My other baked and roast chicken recipes you might like:
Baked Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, Lemon, and Rosemary
Baked Chicken with Citrus Marinade
Cuban Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken
Fessenjan (Persian Walnut Pomegranate Cornish Game Hen) with Dill Rice
Ga Ro Ti (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken)
Ga Ro Ti Xa (Vietnamese Roasted Lemongrass Chicken)
Peruvian Roast Chicken


  1. $1.76 is really very cheap for a 3 lb bird!
    I saw on TV that you have to tie the wings by stuffing the "tail" of the wing inside so that the tail does not burn.
    There are so many dishes to make with this one chicken eh. Can make chicken macaroni soup, chicken salad, add to chicken noodles soup etc... you got me excited here :)

  2. Yich,
    I know! That's the only time I bake chicken. Hmm, I've never stuffed my chicken tail inside and I've never had any problems. Can't wait to see your chicken recipes. :)

  3. YUM YUM YUM how much does a whole chicken usually cost?

  4. Tania,
    Wait for chickens to go on sale for around $3. Prices range from $6 to $9. In which case, I just buy the pre-cooked rotisserie chickens.

  5. i loved this. i made this on sunday (because the two times i made the 40 clove baked chicken was epic #FAIL).
    loved this for it's simplicity and ease, i'll be making this again next week for the bff in NC. :)

  6. Lan,
    Yay! Finally! One of my baked chicken recipes worked for you. Was so sad when you didn't like 40 cloves garlic baked chicken.

  7. I LOVE that you did this in a cast iron skillet - I am making this tonight since I got a whole fryer on sale for dirt cheap and also have some red potatoes and baby carrots that I need to use. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Julia,
    It was such a small chicken, it fit perfectly in my small pan.


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