Locavore Roast Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme

by Sarah on January 8, 2010

Here chick chick chick chicky!
Behold, the Cornish Cross chicken in it’s natural habitat.
This is a Cache Creek Meat Co. chicken.  Have you seen them at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday?  The chicken lady is right next to the Lucky Dog Beef Guy, who is right next to Mr. Bledsoe and his high-quality pork products.  You can find their chickens at the Davis Market and even at some grocery stores and restaurants (including Mulvaney’s!).  They advertise that their chickens are raised organically on pastures–they hang out and eat bugs all day.
What I think is cool is that they breed different kinds of chickens because the different breeds have different flavors.  You can read all about them here.



Behold, the Cornish Cross chicken.  Probably in a habitat it would prefer not to be in, but that’s another story for another day.  Thank you Mr. or Ms. Chicken for your life.  Now we will eat you.
Notice it’s somewhat scrawny breast.  It’s not genetically modified and pumped up with added liquids like the supermarket chickens.  This guy is about 3 pounds all together.



Now, let’s get to roasting this sucker.
We’re going to flavor him up with lemon zest, garlic, thyme and salt n’ pepper.  Oh yeah, one more thing……
Butter, duh.
Rinse the chicken if you are so inclined, and pat him dry with paper towels.  Open up the butt end and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Gee, this looks awkward.
Separate the skin from the body and loosen the skin all over the chicken.
Once the skin has been loosened, grab some of that lemon-garlic-thyme butter and shove it up under the skin.  Try to get the butter all over the chicken under that skin.
Use a little butter or olive oil on the outside of the skin.  Season it with salt and pepper.
Cut the lemon into quarters and shove it up the chicken’s bum.
Now give him a little massage.
Do you truss your chicken?  Here’s a video if you want to see how to do it.
All tied up like a present.  Trussing isn’t necessary, but it does help it cook more evenly, helps it maintain it’s shape, and will help keep stuffing inside the cavity.
First, roast at high heat (400*) for the first 20 minutes.
Turn down the heat till 350*, and add your peeled carrots—I also drizzed them with olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper.  Continue to cook until the chicken reaches 160* in the fleshy part of the thigh.  For a small chicken like this, it should only take another 20 minutes.
When done, place the chicken on your cutting board to rest a while.  Then carve.
While the chicken’s resting, you can make a quick pan sauce by adding some flour to thicken the juices, whisk, then add chicken stock to desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.  Wine is unnecessary here since the lemon juice adds plenty of acidity.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme


  • 1 roasting chicken
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400*.
  • Rinse and pat dry chicken. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Loosen the skin and stuff the butter under the skin, all over the chicken. Massage a small amount of the butter or olive oil on the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Truss chicken and lay on a sheet pan or roasting pan.
  • Roast at the high heat for 20 minutes. Lower oven heat to 350* and continue to roast until chicken is cooked to 160* in the fleshy part of the thigh. For a small chicken, about 20 minutes more. For a larger chicken, it may take up to another 40 minutes.
  • If you wish to add vegetables, wash and season them and drizzle with olive oil. You may add them at this time.
  • When chicken is done, let rest on cutting board for 10 minutes.
  • If you wish to make a pan sauce or gravy, bring pan juices to a boil. Add 2-3 Tbsp flour and whisk. Add chicken stock to the desired consistency and season with salt and pepper.

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