roast chickenSunday nights are usually not a popular night. The realization that the weekend went by way too quickly is upon us, and most of us have to get ready for school or work the next day. K and I like to have a nice Sunday night dinner, a mini-Thanksgiving if you will, to ease comfortably into the week. Our favorite Sunday night comfort meal is roast chicken. Now, I have searched all over for the best recipe. I have tweaked other recipes and tried my best, but nothing compares to Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken that is in her book Barefoot in Paris.

Before I even go into the health benefits, please consider buying grass-fed, pastured, organic chickens which are raised the old-fashioned way. There are plenty of family farms who care about their animals and provide them with healthy diets and lifestyles. Their meat is much healthier and tastier than industrial chicken and the nutritional information I will be providing really only applies to a chicken raised in this manner. Chicken is high in protein, tryptophan (that is where the comfort comes in), selenium, B3, B6 and phosphorus. B3, or niacin, is important in protecting against cancer, age-related cognitive decline and blood sugar regulation. B6 is important for energy and cardiovascular health. It also works hand-in-hand with B3 to regulate metabolism, and supports a variety of metabolic reactions. Selenium is an essential component of thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems and immune function. And chicken, like all protein-dense foods, are important for the regulation of mood and stress management (including depression, anxiety and sleep). And for those of you who may be horrified at the idea of putting butter on chicken skin, you can always take the skin off after you cook it. Although we often hear how dangerous it is to eat fat and cholesterol, it is truly important to get good quality cholesterol and saturated fat in your diet.

  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) roasting chicken
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • pink salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter from grassfed cows

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers. Pat dry.

Toss the onion with olive oil in a small roasting pan. Ensure the onions are tossed well or they will burn a bit. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the quartered lemons inside the chicken. Brush the outside of the chicken with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You are supposed to then tie the legs together with kitchen string, but I usually skip that part. Tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken so they don’t burn.

Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Ina serves this over croutons (which is amazing), but since I don’t eat much gluten these days, I serve it with brown rice, vegetables, the cooked onions and topped with the pan juices. It is so delicious! The top gets nice and brown from the butter, and the breast meat stays juicy and tender due to the moisture from the onions.