Roast Lemon Chicken with Garlic & Olives

Roast Lemon Chicken with Garlic & Olives

<img alt="Roast Chicken with Garlic & Olives"/>
I don’t really know how to truss a chicken.  At most, if I’ve attempted to do so, it has only been when I’ve stuffed the chicken and so I half-heartedly wrap cotton string around the legs a few times to keep things in.

Any number of resources are available that will explain why I should truss my chicken, how said trussing will affect the final product, and of course, show me how to truss effectively.  To be honest, this whole subject must have been determined by destiny.

Some people are destined to be famous and make millions, or influence hoards of willing subjects thereby changing the direction of humanity for the better.  I am destined to be someone influenced by clever and charming Foodie I happened onto a few days ago after I’d already made the decision to thaw the eight-dollar non-organic, mass produced big box grocery-store-bought Foster Farms roaster in my freezer and had some semblance of a recipe in mind.  I wasn’t looking for a lesson on trussing, but I got one anyway.  And  must have been a good lesson, because I’d read Thomas Keller’s viewpoint on the importance of trussing not too long ago, but wasn’t compelled to give it a go.  Of course, I didn’t have a chicken in my sink at the time.  Waiting.
So thanks, Matt of Wrightfood.  I enjoyed the video and your blog.

I’m not sure I was perfectly successful at the trussing (you’re not supposed to have a big “X” across the most delicate part of the chicken…), but I enjoyed myself, and will be looking into this business of trussing, adding it to the mental list of things I should do, but don’t, and then chide myself over mercilessly.  Our roast chicken was, however, very moist and flavorful with little or no effort.

There are quite a few variations on Chicken with Olives that I’ve come across, so I can say that they’ve all influenced my version one way or another — without the trussing.

<img alt="Cerignola Olives"/>

Roast Lemon Chicken with Garlic & Olives


1 whole chicken with innards removed from the cavity
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. rosemary, parsley, & thyme
2 heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
3/4 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. cerignola olives (large green), seeded
salt & pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Zest the lemon completely.  Then juice it and quarter it.
  3. In a small bowl, mix lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and herbs.  Set aside.
  4. Pat the chicken dry after rinsing it — inside as well.  Liberally sprinkle inside and out with salt and cracked pepper.  Sprinkle some of the herb mixture into the cavity, then add the lemon pieces.
  5. Truss the chicken, and according to this source, “you’ll have a better looking bird.”
  6. Place the chicken in a small roaster or cast iron skillet and sprinkle the remainder of the herb mixture over it, patting it into the skin.
  7. Sprinkle the garlic cloves around the chicken.
  8. Roast the chicken for 18-20 min. per pound and check for doneness by piercing a thigh and looking for opaque meat and clear juice or use an instant read thermometer inserted in the thigh that reads a USDA recommended 165 degrees F.  About an hour for an average sized bird.
  9. Remove the chicken from the roaster when done and place on a platter, tented with foil.
  10. Pour the chicken broth into the pan and over medium-high heat stir, scraping up any brown bits in the pan.  Add the olives and cook until they’re warm.
  11. Carve the chicken, and serve, passing the olive sauce.  The taste is one of our very favorites.

<img alt="Sauce for Roast Lemon Chicken with Garlic & Olives"/>

<img alt="Roast Lemon Chicken with Garlic & Olives"/>

Recipe Notes

  • Cerignola olives can often be found at the olive bar in many grocery stores.  They’re mild tasting olives, and not as briny as some.  In other words, they don’t make the inside of your cheeks twinge when you eat them.  They have a pleasant fruity taste like good olive oil.  They are usually unseeded, but they’re so big, I cut the cheeks off them just like you would a mango.  It works.  I can’t always find them, so have used other green olives instead  — except “Spanish olives” with pimientos stuffed in them.  I like them, just not for this dish.
  • You can have fun with different combinations of herbs like oregano, or add some shallots.  Use your imagination and choose what you enjoy.
  • If you don’t want to peel all that garlic, purchase it in bulk already peeled.  I used to do that, but I sort of like peeling garlic.  It’s soothing.  Go figure.  Of course when I don’t have the time, I smash the garlic, skins and all with a bench scraper or the side of my knife and the peels come right off.  You’ll just have squashed garlic instead of pretty cloves.
  • This chicken is excellent with mashed potatoes, quartered and simmered until fork tender with peelings on.  Add some buttermilk and a bit of butter and mash some more, but leave a few chunks.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • After feeding the three of us, there was enough chicken to have pasta with the sauce for lunch the next day, and club sandwiches for dinner.  You’ll see…

<img alt="Roast Lemon Chicken with Garlic & Olives"/>