My younger brother Matt makes a mean roast chicken. He can cook it just perfectly — with crispy skin and tender, juicy meat.
The thing about Matt, though, is that he is an “intuitive” cook. Meaning: He doesn’t follow recipes, and certainly doesn’t write down his own creations. So here’s what happened when I asked him how to make his roast chicken:
Me: Hey Matt, what temperature do you cook that chicken at?
Matt: Doesn’t matter. Hot.
Me: Oh-kaaaay. Well, how long do you cook it then?
Matt: Til it’s done.
Clearly, Matt does not have as much Lisa Simpson in him as I do. So for my own sake (is that weird that I have to follow my own recipes?), I jotted down some notes.
And then this evening, I took pictures along the way. Here’s one close up of the juicy, garlicky, lemony finished product — so simple, yet so good. The recipe is below.
Easy & Delicious Lemon-Thyme Roast Chicken
Serves 2 to 4
I’ve often heard that if you want to call yourself a real chef, you must be able to whip up a perfect roast chicken from memory. While I won’t call this recipe perfect, it is certainly close enough: The roasted chicken comes out juicy and tender with a wonderful combination of satisfying flavors.
To simplify things, I use two large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken. The bone-in breasts can be very big, so John and I usually split one, which is why I say this recipe serves up to four. You might double up if your guests have larger appetites.
2 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (approx. 1 lb. each)
1 lemon, halved
2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced into several pieces
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts in a medium-sized baking dish, bone side down. (I like to use my Oval Corningware Casserole Dish without the lid.) Squeeze 1/2 lemon over each breast and toss lemon rinds into baking dish. Sprinkle equal amounts of garlic slices over each breast. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over each breast; then sprinkle with salt. Place two or three pieces of butter on top of each. Sprinkle with leaves of fresh thyme.
Place baking dish in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 45-50 minutes or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the chicken (without touching a bone) reaches approximately 165 degrees. Remove from oven. Let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Spoon any pan drippings into a small bowl. Remove skin from chicken, slice, and serve. Spoon warm pan drippings over chicken at the table.
If you need serving ideas, this recipe goes especially well with simple white rice and a green salad or one of the dishes below. Also, warm French bread is perfect for mopping up any leftover drippings.