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Roast Chicken with Rosemary-Lemon Salt

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One whole chicken serves four for dinner; the second yields enough to make two additional meals.

For a very flavorful roast chicken, I like to liven up plain old kosher salt by mixing it with some fresh rosemary and lemon zest. Pulsing it in the food processor helps release the flavorful oils from the zest and the rosemary. This recipe is for two chickens, which will give you leftover meat to use in salads, wraps, or this quick stir-fry.

  • 2 medium lemons
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 4-lb. chickens, giblets and excess fat discarded
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Tip:
Salting seasons the bird, of course, but if you can do it a day, or even a few hours, ahead, you'll get more flavorful meat and crisper skin.

Finely grate the zest from the lemons. In a food processor or mini chopper, combine the zest with the 2 Tbs. salt, the rosemary, and black pepper. Pulse several times to combine.

Sprinle each chicken with this salt mixture both inside and outside the cavity and between the skin and the breast meat (use your fingers to gently open up a pocket between the two). Cut 1 of the lemons in half and stuff a half in the cavity of each bird. Reserve the remaining lemon for another use. Set the chickens on a wire rack atop a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

About 30 minutes before you're ready to roast the chickens, set an oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 425°F. Take the chickens out of the refrigerator and brush the butter uniformly over the skin. Sprinkle each chicken with 1/2 tsp. salt. Set each chicken, breast side up, on 1 or 2 racks (preferably a nonadjustable V-rack) in a large roasting pan. Let the chickens rest at room temperature while the oven heats.

Roast the chickens until the breasts are nicely browned and crisp, about 40 minutes. Gently flip each chicken (I like using tongs to clutch the inside ofthe cavity and the side of the bird) and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, about 20 minutes more. Let rest for 5 minutes before carving one of the chickens into pieces.

150 Things to Make With Roast Chicken - Rosemary-Lemon Salt Recipe

Find more recipes like this one in 150 Things to Make With Roast Chicken, by Fine Cooking contributing editor Tony Rosenfeld. Get two meals in one, with 50 ideas for roasting the bird, plus recipes for casseroles, soups, stews, wraps, salads and more using the leftovers.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on eight servings; Calories (kcal): 570; Fat (g): fat g 35; Fat Calories (kcal): 310; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 12; Protein (g): protein g 59; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 0; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 7; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 1160; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 205; Fiber (g): fiber g 0;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Awesome recipe! I only refrigerated the chicken for 5 hours and the flavor was fantastic. I will keep this recipe in mind the next time I am entertaining and want to prepare the chicken the day before. My kids loved it!

Awesome recipe! I only refrigerated the chicken for 5 hours and the flavor was fantastic. I will keep this recipe in mind the next time I am entertaining and want to prepare the chicken the day before. My kids loved it!

This was delicious! I followed the recipe as written, but didn't have a rack, so I put carrots and parsnips (with EVOO, salt and thyme) in the pan and put the chickens on top of that. The meat was juicy and flavored just right. I will definitely make this one again.

This is the best roast chicken I have ever made! I loved the flavor of the seasoning, the skin was crispy, and the chicken was super moist. I followed the recipe to the letter and I let the chicken sit in fridge for 24 hours before roasting, per another reviewer suggestion. The chicken really took on the lemon-rosemary flavor which I noticed more when using up the leftover chicken the next day. So good!!! I will definitely make this one again!

This recipe is a winner!! I roast chicken fairly frequently, and this recipe tops the list! You do need time (I took the entire 24 hours) and space in your fridge for two chickens to perch uncovered, basking in the salty, lemony, rosemary goodness, but it is WELL worth it!

The absolute best roast chicken recipe I've ever tried!! We left out the lemon, but did everything else as written - YUMMY. My search for the best roast chicken recipe is over.

What an amazingly perfect roast chicken! I've made a lot of roast chickens so far, with all sorts of variations, but this recipe came out perfect. All of the meat was tender and juicy. I thought I'd have leftovers, but it was gone! Definitely give this a try, I don't think I'll ever roast a chicken another way again.

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