When it’s cold and we’re stuck inside, I go into food prep overdrive. I’ll batch cook a bunch of roasted vegetables and make and freeze things like meatballs, soups, and chilis. And, if it’s a Sunday, it means it’s also time for roasted chicken.
Roasted chicken has been a through-line in my adult life: It’s a dish I made a lot when I first got married, when it felt like a grown-up thing to make and master. It was also a food that was brought to me (along with pie, sweet potatoes, and freshly-made bread) by friends after I gave birth to twins. And now, many years later, divorced with preteen boys who are constantly hungry (I need food! is the mantra around here), it’s a simple and satisfying dinner that I return to, time and time again.
I love the predictability of roasted chicken. When pure chaos swirls around me, it is grounding to know the right temperature to cook and how long it’ll take. Because I’ve done it so many times before, I know what to do with it when it comes out of the oven, and how to treat it with respect because it’s the gift that keeps on giving: Leftovers become salad or soup, and the carcass takes its turn, too, transforming into rich, golden stock.
And I definitely know what to serve with it. It’s always potatoes and something green.
Yes, there’s very little that’s as perfect as a perfectly roasted chicken. Especially when it is Nigella Lawson’s Slow Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken.
Why Nigella Lawson’s Roasted Chicken Is Perfect
What makes this recipe perfect is that its simple. It works, so you don’t have to.
The recipe starts with a whole chicken cut into parts. This is something you can ask your butcher to do if you’re not comfortable. It cooks low and slow, with thyme and garlic and lemon and a few generous glugs of olive oil, for a couple of hours.
Thyme, earthy and woodsy, is made for chicken. Garlic almost always makes everything better and I can’t roast a chicken without it. And lemon brightens all the flavors.
Everything softens and mellows, releasing juices that get absorbed by the chicken. Then, you crank up the heat for the last half hour or so. And everything gets crisped up—including those lemons that you didn’t realize could do such a thing.
This is a dish you really want in the dead of winter when the sun blinks off, seemingly at 4pm. The irony of this recipe is that it’s published in her cookbook Forever Summer, although a good roasted chicken is welcome in my house any time of year.
Get the Recipe: Slow Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken