A hearty holiday feast is anchored in its main dish — ideally, something simple enough to pair with an amalgam of sides, but flavorful and filling in its own right. We asked our Guest Food & Drink Editor, Chef Ericka Burke of Volunteer Park Cafe, to share her favorite recipe for a classic entree, and she served up this lemon-sage roasted chicken. Toothsome and juicy with a crispy skin, it's sure to satisfy even the pickiest guest at the table. Plus, its mouthwatering scent will permeate the house as it cooks, and any lingering slices of leftovers make awesome sandwiches or salad toppers for the next day's lunch.
For the lemon-sage butter:
10 garlic cloves
¼ cup olive oil
½ pound unsalted butter, cubed
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup chopped fresh sage
6 whole sage leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
For the chicken:
1 (3-4 pound) chicken
2 lemons, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
1 handful fresh thyme
1 handful fresh sage
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
To make the lemon-sage butter, heat your oven to 375 degrees. Place the garlic and olive oil in a small roasting pan, and cover it with foil. Put the pan in the oven and roast for approximately 20 minutes, or until the garlic cloves are very soft. Strain and cool. (Reserve the delicious garlicky olive oil for another use — it's great for vinaigrette or to roast veggies!) In a stand mixer, or in a bowl with a hand mixer, blend the garlic, butter, lemon zest, herbs and salt until incorporated.
To make the chicken, keep the oven at 375 degrees. Remove the chicken giblets, if they came with the chicken, and rinse the chicken inside and out. Trim away any excess fat, and pat the chicken dry.
Loosen the skin on the breast and legs carefully with your hands, and slide the sage leaves under the skin on the breast. Liberally slather the whole chicken with the lemon-sage butter.
Stuff the cavity with lemon halves, garlic halves, thyme and sage.
Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place chicken in a roasting pan breast side up. Season with salt and pepper.
Roast the chicken for 1.5 hours, occasionally basting the skin with the released butter and juices. The chicken is done when the juices run clear when you make a cut between a leg and thigh.
Rest the chicken for 20 minutes, then slice and serve.
p.s. Meet the chef behind the recipe, here.