Few things beat the simplicity of a roasted chicken with potatoes. Perfect for any occasion, this one-pan meal is affordable, uses only a couple of ingredients, takes only a few minutes to prepare, and satisfies even the most picky eaters.
As you may know, I am a lucky girl to have married into a Greek family. My mother-in-law makes roast chicken and potatoes for Sunday night dinners when she feels too tired to make anything “fancy.” I too consider this dish fancy in what it delivers in flavor, texture, and overall appeal. The classic Greek flavor combination is garlic, oregano, and lemon. Just about anything that is roasted, i.e. potatoes or rice with any given meat, fish, etc., that has this Greek flavor trifecta delivers a home run.
For this roast, I decided to try something a little fancier — to put thin slices of oregano-coated lemons under the chicken skin. I figured this would not only look pretty but also protect the breast from overcooking. And I was definitely right on both accounts, but I must add that the lemon pith gave a slightly bitter taste to the chicken. If you do not prefer that slight lemon bitterness, just use the juice of the lemon for this recipe. Another adjustment I made to the classic Greek variation is to leave the skin on the potatoes to keep the nutritional value intact and add textural appeal. This roast is best paired with a fresh seasonal salad of your choice.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Scrub the potatoes well, dry, and remove any bad spots. Cut into equal sized large dice cuts. In a large roast pan, put in about 2 tablespoons olive oil, the diced potatoes, about 1 teaspoon salt, and about 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Mix well and make a spot in the middle to place the chicken.
Make sure that gizzards are removed from the cavity of the chicken, if there are any. (If desired, gizzards can be tossed and cooked with the potatoes.) In the cavity, place a generous amount of salt, pepper, oregano, and lemon (with rind for sharp flavor or just juice for mild). If placing thin slices of lemon under the breast skin, carefully use a butter knife to separate to skin from the meat started from the bottom up. Then carefully place lemon slices, oregano, and thinly sliced garlic under the skin.
Truss (compact the chicken to protect the breast from overcooking) by tucking the wings up and behind, and cutting small slits in the skin on the backside of the cavity and placing the end of the opposite leg through that slit. Repeat with other side and leg. If using just the lemon juice, evenly spread lemon juice on the skin, followed by a thin coating of olive oil, and a generous dusting of salt.
Place in the oven. The roast should be done in about 45-55 minutes. Half way through, carefully turn over potatoes to ensure even roasting. After about 45 minutes, pull out of the oven, and take the temperature, placing a meat thermometer in the center of the thickest part of the chicken. Once the temperature reaches 165 degrees, it is done. (Using a thermometer is the only way to correctly know if it is safely cooked, yet not overcooked.) Allow to rest for about 15 minutes before cutting the chicken.