I had a new friend coming over to hang out for lunch and wanted to feed her a nice meal (show off). Sitting around talking while your house fills with cozy food smells is arguably one of the best ways to spend a Saturday and this is an easy way to do that. Chop some carrots, celery, and onion and toss em in a cast iron skillet. Place the chicken on top of that. Generously salt and pepper the outside. Stick half a lemon in its butt. Stuff some butter under the skin if you’re feeling fancy. Put it in the oven until the skin is crispy beautiful brown (and until it reaches the FDA specified 165F internal temp for safe chicken). Serve it with some hearty bread and just enough greens to make you feel healthy and watch the friendship happen.
3 carrots, cut into large pieces
4 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces
1 onion, cut into large pieces
A couple sprigs of thyme
2 tablespoons of butter, softened (optional)
1 lemon, cut in half
Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 400F
Place all your chopped veggies and the thyme in a cast iron skillet or baking dish
Pat the outside of the chicken to dry it off. This helps create a crispy skin. Season with salt and pepper, probably more than you think you need. If you want to (you do) smear the butter in between the skin and meat of the chicken breasts. Put half the lemon in the butt and the other half in the skillet with the veggies. Place the chicken on top.
You can tie the legs together at this point if you have butchers twine. It does help the chicken cook a little more evenly but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. I didn’t and it still turned out great.
Put the cast iron in the oven and let it go for 40-45 minutes. When the skin starts looking brown, take it out and check the internal temperature with a digital thermometer. If you don’t have one of those I strongly suggest getting one. Check the temperature by the leg. Once it reads 150F pull the chicken out. It will continue to cook for a little once removed from the oven.
Once its cooled enough to handle, transfer it to a cutting board. Remove all the veggies with tongs or a strainer but KEEP ALL THAT LIQUID. It’s about to become the most beautiful sauce you could imagine. Pour the liquid into a small sauce pot and turn the heat to medium high. We’re going to let it simmer until it reduces by half and gets all thick and flavorful and shiny. Taste it and add more salt if needed.
Carve your chicken up, serve it with some mixed greens and crusty bread, and enjoy.