This recipe is what I use to make a roast chicken dinner. It’s one of my husband’s favorite meals and it’s so easy and delicious. My husband and I prefer white meat so this recipe is designed to make the breast meat especially tasty. I usually use the leftover dark meat for a chicken pie.
1 whole chicken (5-7 pounds)
2 tablespoons lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
3-4 tablespoons butter
2-1/2 cups water
Rinse the chicken well, inside and out, and remove any giblets. (You can save the giblets if you want to use them for gravy, but this recipe makes really good gravy without messing with the giblets.) Place the chicken, breast side up in a roasting pan or baking dish.
Gently separate the skin from the chicken breast. You can either slide your fingers under the skin or use a spoon or other object. You don’t want to tear the skin or take it off the chicken, just make a pocket under the skin to place the seasoning in. Try to leave the skin attached along the breastbone (center line). If you have a pop-up thermometer in your bird, you may want to remove it first and replace it before you put the chicken in the oven.
Mix the spices together in a small dish and then spread about 1/3 over the breast meat, under the skin. I have found it easiest to scoop up spices with a spoon, insert the spoon under the skin, and then rotate the spoon to pour the spices onto the meat. You want to coat the entire surface of the breast meat with the spices.
Next, melt the butter and place about 1/3 on the breast meat, under the skin. Again, a spoon is really useful for this. When you’re done, you should have both butter and spices coating the breast meat.
Spread the remaining butter over the inside and outside of the chicken and sprinkle with the remaining spices. Pour the water into the bottom of the pan. Be careful not to pour it over the chicken or it will wash off the spices.
Bake the chicken at 350○F. After one hour, begin basting the chicken about every 20 minutes with the juices from the bottom of the pan.
Cook the chicken for a total of 2 to 2-1/2 hours (depending on the size of the bird). If you’re a little late getting it in the oven, turn the oven up to 375○F and you will save about 20-30 minutes. The chicken is done when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 180○F or when the juices run clear when you poke a hole in the leg meat. If you have a pop-up thermometer in the bird, they are generally accurate (although I have had some that just refuse to ever pop up).
Once the chicken is done, remove it from the oven, baste it one last time, and let it set for about 15 minutes before carving.
While the chicken is setting, you can make the gravy. Place the juices from the roasting pan in a small saucepan and heat until gently boiling. You may want to use a baster to take the juices from the bottom as the fats will be on top and can be left in the roasting pan. This will reduce the amount of fat in the gravy and make it less likely to separate. If the juices look (or taste) very strong, you may want to add some water to them (which will also make more gravy). Mix about 1/3 cup cornstarch with 1 cup of water in a cup or small bowl. You want the mixture to have plenty of cornstarch without being hard to pour. Once the chicken juices are boiling, add the cornstarch mixture slowly, stirring as you pour, until the gravy thickens to the desired consistency. You shouldn't need to add any other spices to the gravy since it's really good as it is.
Carve the chicken and serve with your choice of veggies and mashed potatoes (with gravy, of course).