Across the Mediterranean you’ll find variations of roasted lemon chicken. Most of these traditional home cooked recipes have a lot in common; they are simple and delicious. Whether it’s the French poulet au citron, Italian pollo al limone, Spanish pollo al romero con limón y piñones or Greek kotopoulo lemonato, the cultural boundaries tend to blur. Especially when your kitchen summons the family at mealtime with the aroma of chicken roasting with lemon, garlic and rosemary.
The recipe we will be making is the Greek version of roasted lemon chicken which includes potatoes. Roasting the potatoes in the same pan with the chicken allows them to soak up the tasty lemony pan juices.
If you have the time, it’s nice to brine. This method seasons the chicken with a little salt and sugar and makes the meat more tender and juicy. The difference is subtle, but worth it. But if you don’t have the time to brine the chicken, it’s okay to skip it.
You can either make this recipe with a whole chicken or with chicken pieces. The recipe instructions below use a whole chicken but using chicken pieces works fine with a slight modification.
For whole chicken
- Cut the garlic into slivers
- Stuff the garlic and lemon rind wedges into the chicken’s cavity
- Spread the lemon and oil mixture over the chicken
- Baste halfway during roasting
For chicken pieces
- Finely chop the garlic then mix it in with the lemon and oil
- Spread this garlic, lemon mixture over the chicken pieces
- Place the lemon rind wedges in the pan between the potatoes and chicken
- Baste halfway during roasting
Options for the potatoes
I find Russet potatoes work best for roasting due to their fluffy texture and nice skins. If using large potatoes, prick them with a fork then partly cook them with their skins on in the microwave first. After they cool a bit, cut them into wedges then add them to the roast pan. Make sure the cut sides are face down. Turn them part way through cooking. This allows them to absorb the liquids and to brown nicely.
If you use smaller potatoes, you won’t need to precook them. Just cut them in half and place the cut side down. Check them part way through cooking to ensure they aren’t sticking to the pan. Baste the potatoes as well as the chicken.
Roasted Lemon Chicken with Rosemary Potatoes
For the brine
- 6 cups cold water
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 whole chicken about 3 lbs
For the roast
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 small lemon or ½ large lemon
- 3 garlic cloves cut into slivers
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- ½ tsp sweet paprika
- 2 large Russet potatoes
- 1 tbsp rosemary
- ½ cup water
Brining the chicken
- To a pot, large enough to hold the chicken, dissolve the salt and sugar in about 1/4 cup of warm water. Add 6 cups of very cold water and stir well.
- Check that there are no giblets in the chicken’s cavity then add the chicken to the brine.
- Make sure that the chicken is covered in the brine, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Preparing the roast
- Preheat the oven to 425 F
- Scrub the potatoes to remove any dirt. Poke them with a fork, then cook them whole with the skins on, in the microwave on high for about 4 minutes.
- Juice the lemon, then blend the lemon juice with 1 tbsp olive oil.
- Cut the lemon rind into 4 pieces.
- Peel and cut the garlic into slivers.
- Remove the chicken from the brine then pat it dry with a paper towel. Discard the brine.
- Stuff the chicken’s cavity with the lemon pieces and garlic then tie up the wings and legs with butcher’s twine.
- Place the chicken in a large skillet or shallow roasting pan then coat with the lemon and olive oil mixture. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and paprika.
- Slice the partially cooked potatoes into wedges. Then toss them in a bowl to coat them with the remaining 1 tbsp olive, crumbled rosemary, salt and pepper.
- Add the potatoes and ½ cup water to the pan, place in the oven and reduce the temperature to 375 F.
- Turn over the potatoes part way through cooking to brown all sides. Add a little more water if the bottom of the pan has dried up.
- Roast for about 80 minutes. The chicken is done when the juices run clear. To ensure food safety, a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh joint should read 165 F or above.
- Remove the roast pan from the oven, allow it to cool for about 5 minutes before carving.
NutritionPer serving Calories: 528kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Iron: 2mg
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