I love chicken. Baked or roasted chicken is one of my favorite comfort foods, and although the end result is fantastic, there really isn't that much effort required in the preparation. The first time I made Elise's classic baked chicken , I was stunned at what came out of the oven. The only ingredients that went into it were chicken, olive oil, salt and pepper, and yet when I took my first bite it was so flavorful. (If you noticed that both Georgeanne and I link to Simply Recipes a lot, it's probably because I basically learned to cook from Elise's blog when I got my first apartment, and I often link Georgeanne to some of her recipes.)
Two of my favorite flavors on chicken are lemon and garlic, and whenever I roast a chicken, I almost always end up putting garlic cloves and sliced lemons into the cavity. This version of baked chicken incorporates those two flavors. I think that one of the reasons baked chicken is so delicious in the first place is that it's so simple and uncomplicated, so this variation is an attempt to stay along those lines. I almost always throw some kind of vegetable into the roasting pan when making chicken because they soak up a lot of the juices and become chickeny and wonderful, but the potatoes and carrots in this recipe can be substituted with any other veggie that roasts well.
Garlic and Lemon Baked Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots
A 3 or 4 pound chicken, cut up (breasts, thighs, legs and wings)
3 or 4 large garlic cloves
Baby potatoes (I like the red ones because I love the skin)
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400º. Zest the lemon and mince the garlic finely. Pour some olive oil into a bowl and mix it with the garlic and lemon zest. Place the prepared chicken into a relatively large roasting pan (I like the aluminum ones because they make cleaning up easy, not to mention I really don't have room to store a huge roasting pan in my apartment.) The chicken pieces shouldn't be touching and there should be quite a bit of room between each piece.
Brush both sides of each chicken piece with the garlic and lemon oil. Cut the baby potatoes in half (or quarters if there are some larger potatoes). Place the carrots and potatoes in the spaces around the chicken and drizzle them with any remaining garlic/lemon oil. Generously salt and pepper both the chicken and the veggies.
Don't the colors in this picture look like somebody's '70s curtains?
Optional: I sliced the lemon and put a slice on top of each chicken piece. It made the skin very lemony, but it also prevented that section of the skin from browning, so depending on how you like your chicken you may want to skip that step.
Bake the chicken in the oven for about 30 minutes. Lower the heat to 350º and continue cooking. My chicken was slightly over 4 lbs, so it took the chicken an additional 40 minutes to cook at 350º.
There's a great method for making gravy back at the original recipe (if you like gravy,) but I usually just end up heating the cooking juices with a slurry made from 1 TBSP of the juices and 1 TBSP of cornstarch until it thickens.