When you’re craving comfort food, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a flavorful roast chicken with silken gravy. So, after being on the road for a couple of weeks recently while dining on some scrumptious fare, we were salivating for our first home-cooked meal and immediately thought of a roast chicken, garlicky mashed potatoes with gravy and some sort of cool-weather roasted veggie.
Introducing our Lemon-Garlic Stuffed Roast Chicken with Silken Gravy. To start, get yourself a good-sized 5-to-6 pound whole chicken, preferably organic. Gather a lemon, several stalks of a variety of fresh herbs, and a whole head of garlic (more for the spuds). When rubbing the butter mixture under the skin, try not to tear it, but if you do (we did, as you can see in the photo), don’t worry, it will still end up very flavorful and juicy.
What’s nice about this recipe, other than being quite simple, is none of the herbs get wasted because the unchopped leftovers go into the cavity to perfume the meat and add depth of flavor to the gravy. Don’t get hung up on exact amounts. If for example, you prefer more sage than rosemary, or want to use up some oregano, by all means, switch out or increase/decrease the quantities to address your personal preferences.
A bird this size usually takes about 15 minutes per pound to come to temperature, but because it is pretty tightly stuffed, you need to add another half hour or so to the cooking time. And for consistent browning, remember to rotate the pan 180° every 20 minutes. A chicken is fully cooked when breasts read 160-165°F, and thigh meat is at 170-175°F.
A varietal twist: For an orange-scented chicken, instead of lemon use the zest and fruit of an orange.
Lemon-Garlic Stuffed Roast Chicken with Silken Gravy
- 5-6 lb. whole chicken, preferably organic
- 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped, (extra unchopped for the cavity)
- 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped, (extra unchopped for the cavity)
- 2 tsp. fresh sage, chopped, (extra unchopped for the cavity)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped, (extra unchopped for the cavity, and more for garnish)
- 1 large head of garlic, unpeeled and sliced thru the middle horizontally
- 1 large lemon, zested, then pith removed and quartered
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 qts, chicken stock, preferably homemade, 1/2 set aside
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels.
- In a small bowl, make a compound butter mixture with the softened butter, chopped herbs (about 3-4 tablespoons total), the lemon zest, and a small amount of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
- Rub all of the butter mixture both under and over the skin, including the underside.
- Stuff the cavity with leftover stalks of herbs, the halved garlic head, and quartered lemon pieces. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
- Place prepared chicken on a rack in a large rimmed baking sheet, and place into the preheated oven. Rotate the baking sheet every 20 minutes until done. Breasts should read 160-165°F, while thigh meat is done at 170-175°F. Start checking the temperature after 1 1/2 hours. (Our 5 1/2 lb. chicken took 1 hour and 50 minutes before it was done.)
- Remove sheet from oven, place entire chicken on a cutting board with a moat and let rest for 15 minutes, twine intact. Juices will begin to accumulate underneath the bird.
- Meanwhile, heat the homemade chicken stock in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. In a small bowl, combine the corn starch with the reserved, unheated quarter cup of stock and whisk into a slurry until lumps disappear. Slowly whisk slurry into the boiling stock and keep stirring until thickened. Reduce heat to low and keep gravy at a simmer.
- Drain the pan juice into a defatter, pouring the defatted juices into the gravy mixture, and discard the fat.
- Pour a small amount of water onto the baking sheet, scrape the browned bits with a wooden spatula until released, and pour this into the gravy.
- Snip the twine away from the legs, and after the bird releases its juices, pour them into the simmering gravy. Stir until combined.
- Carve the chicken as you desire, and arrange the pieces on a platter, garnishing with sprigs of parsley and/or rosemary. (BONUS: the leftover carcass can be used to make more stock!)
- Serve with your favorite garlicky mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, along with a boat of the silken gravy.