Lemon Roast Chicken

Pouring the chicken fat onto the bread croutons.  If you feel like you might lose the bird doing it this way, you can always remove the bird and put the bread croutons directly in the pan with the chicken fat.  
All photography, Blue Gabor
I always put kosher salt in ramekins so that I can control the amount of salt I put on anything I’m cooking.

This is a very simple recipe:  chicken, olive oil, kosher salt, lemons, garlic, and thyme.  If you don’t  have fresh thyme on hand, you can skip that ingredient.

I cut the tip off the garlic and throw it away.  I then turn the head of garlic
 cut-side facedown in the pan. 

I squeeze lemon all over the chicken, then put the squeezed lemon pieces both inside the chicken and in the pan with the garlic.

You can use a glass baking dish, a ceramic casserole baking dish, or a cast iron pan.  All of the above work for roast chicken.  

Tearing the beautiful sourdough Levain from The Baker’s Table to make croutons.  You can also cut the bread into squares, but I love the look of the hand-torn pieces.

Bread waiting to be tossed in chicken fat and then crisped in the oven.
Fill a platter with the croutons and place the chicken on top of them.
This is probably one of the easiest recipes I make.  There are only six ingredients, and you just throw it all in the oven. In one hour you have one of my most favorite things to eat.  I make this for my family at least once every couple weeks.  My children love rice, so I most frequently make it with Nishiki Rice, but the torn bread croutons are equally delicious and also beautiful.  Do whatever is easiest for you.  I usually serve it with green beans and a salad made with radishes, carrots, and  Buttermilk Dressing.  It is the ultimate comfort food meal, and I always feel so healthy and nourished after I eat it.
CLASSIC ROAST CHICKEN
I always make two chickens because all of us love dark meat, meaning we each need a leg and a thigh.  I use the leftover white breast meat to either make Chicken Salad, Chicken Enchiladas, Chicken Soup, or Chicken Sandwiches.  Just omit one of the chickens if you want to make this recipe for one.  As mentioned above, you can use glass or ceramic rectangular baking dishes, a roasting pan, or cast iron pan.  They all work.  The drippings from the chicken make a lemon garlic sauce to drizzle over the chicken.

Maili’s Notes:  I don’t truss my chickens.  I feel like the air circulates better around the leg and thigh if it isn’t pressed against the breast.  Also, the cavity of the chicken is exposed, and so hot air is able to circulate inside the chicken as well.   There are many myths in cooking, and one of them is that the breast will be moister if you truss the chicken.  Well, that isn’t true; the breast is still completely exposed to the air.  It may look slightly prettier, but for taste, trussing never made sense to me.  

2 whole chickens
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
2 whole lemons, cut into wedges
2 heads of garlic
Fresh thyme, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the liver, hearts, necks and giblets from inside the chickens.  (If you are feeling extra ambitious, you can make stock with the necks wings and backs, and you can make chicken liver paté from the livers.)
Rinse and pat dry the whole chickens.  (Chicken, like most meat will not brown properly if it is wet.) 
Place the chickens in a roasting or ceramic baking dish.  Rub olive oil all over the chicken.
Squeeze lemon wedges over the chicken and put the squeezed lemon pieces both inside the chicken and in the pan. 
Cut the top off the head of garlic and put the garlic cut-side-down in pan.  
Put the chickens in the 400 degree oven and roast for 15 minutes.  Turn the oven temperature down to 375, and roast for another 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your chickens.  The average chicken takes an hour total to cook. A slightly larger chicken will take an hour and 15 minutes.  
BREAD CROUTONS
The croutons will only be as good as the bread you use, so be sure to buy the best you can find. Day old bread works the best.  
1 day old loaf of sourdough levain or other delicious bread
Olive Oil or Chicken Fat
Kosher Salt
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Tear the bread into pieces.  Alternately, if you prefer a different look, you can slice the bread into squares with a bread knife.
Toss with either olive oil or chicken fat.  Spread out evenly on a baking sheet, being careful not to overcrowd the bread so it will crisp.   
If I’m using the dripping from a roast chicken, there is already salt from the chicken in the drippings.  If you are using olive oil, you will want to sprinkle the bread lightly with salt.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in a 375 oven, until golden brown.  
Croutons can also be made from frying the bread in olive oil in a pan on the stove.  Usually the oven method is considered the easiest, but do whatever works best for you.  
Maili Halme