Savory-Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Potatoes

savory roasted chicken

Every Sunday I slow-roast a chicken.  I truss the bird, dress it with herbs, olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and set it on a bed of vegetables – whichever I happen to have on hand.  It’s a happy ritual, and one that helps to feed us all week long, and, later, when I toss the chicken’s frame into the my favorite slowcooker, that same meal gives us enough bone broth to last an entire week.

Sundays are my busy day.  It begins first with a big breakfast – sourdough pancakes, stewed strawberries, homemade yogurt, and is quickly followed by a trip to our farmers market.  Later in the day, I prepare our foods for the week, adding more sweet tea to our continuous brew kombucha, setting up another batch of milk kefir and water kefir, feeding the sourdough starter.  I plan our meals for the week.  And then exhaustion sets in.  It’s this time, that I line a clay baker with vegetables, truss a chicken, and begin an impossibly simple, no-fuss dinner.  By the time my husband returns from his work with the farmers market, dinner is ready and we can enjoy the evening together.

In the last several weeks, I lean heavily on a combination of the herb savory, coupled with garlic, potatoes, preserved lemons and ample olive oil.  I like the pairing of chicken, potatoes and preserved lemon, having first tasted them in concert while doing volunteer work in Morocco one summer nearly 10 years ago.  It’s there also that I first began experimenting with fermentation, learning how to preserve lemons and how to cure olives.

roast chicken vertical uncooked

Preserved Lemons

Each winter when Meyer lemons first come into season, I buy one or two cases depending on the allowances in our budget, and preserve them the old-fashioned way: with salt and time.  Fermentation softens the lemons’ natural tartness and also removes the bitterness from the lemon rind.  Within a few weeks to a month or so, the entire lemon ferments and becomes edible.  It’s a distinct salty sour flavor that pairs nicely with both chicken and fish.  You can learn how to preserve lemons with this tutorial.


Popular in French cooking, savory tastes of rosemary and of thyme.  While it’s difficult to find fresh outside of specialty shops and farmers markets, it grows readily in small pots in a window, or on a patio.   (You can buy seeds online).  If you have no fresh savory, substitute thyme

Why I favor slow roasting (and lots of salt)

Whenever I write about roasting chickens or turkeys, I receive an inevitable onslaught of comments and emails that tell me I cook my birds far too long, and that any bird should be roasted at a very high temperature for only 45 minutes.  I disagree, and, instead, I favor slow-roasting.  In our home, I emphasize purchasing locally produced, pasture-raised poultry.  Having enjoyed plenty of exercise, and having reached the time for slaughter at a much later age than conventionally raised birds, pasture-raised poultry tends toward toughness.  These birds are much more flavorful than their industrially raised cousins, and slow-roasting tempers their natural toughness, producing remarkably tender and succulent results.  Relatively low temperatures and extended cooking allows the bird to not only develop a distinct richness of flavor, but also it prevents the bird from staying tough and, instead, the meat loosens, and makes the birds easy to carve.

I also salt my birds very generously.  Salting the bird’s breast meat helps to draw moisture and fat from the skin, ensuring that it browns and crisps to perfection.  If the flavor imparted by the salt becomes to strong for your liking, simply brush off any extra after the chicken has roasted and the skin has crisped.

chicken cover 3-X2

Savory-Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemons, Garlic and Potatoes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: Serves about 6

Savory-Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemons, Garlic and Potatoes


  • 1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds
  • 1 1/2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 preserved lemons (get the recipe), chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh savory
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground unrefined sea salt (I buy this kind)


  1. Heat the oven to 275 F.
  2. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, in a gentle stream of water. Pat it dry, then truss it with 100% cotton cooking twine (available here). Place the trussed chicken in a baking dish, and arrange the potatoes, garlic and lemons around the chicken.
  3. Brush the chicken with olive oil, and sprinkle it generously with sea salt and chopped savory. Drizzle any remaining olive oil over the potatoes, lemon and garlic.
  4. Roast, uncovered, at 275 F for 2 hours, increase the oven temperature to 375 F and continue roasting a further 45 minutes or until the skin of the chicken crisps and turns brown, and its juices run clear. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


If you cannot find savory, substitute fresh thyme.

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What people are saying

  1. Evelyn says


    I don’t know where you are located, but I’m curious how much your bird costs. I’m in NYC and a pastured bird that is just about 3 pounds is going for over $30. Would love to get a sense of comparison.

    Thanks – Evelyn

    • Marissa says

      Evelyn, if you can get to Brooklyn there’s an organic grassfed butcher, Fleisher’s. I shop at their upstate branch, everything I’ve tried has been fantastic. I believe whole chickens are $3.99lb(prices are listed on their site), at least up here-average chicken being between 3-4lbs.

  2. :D says

    I’m assuning that you would discard the inside of the lemons and just use the rind of the lemons…of do you use ghe entire preserved lemons. Do you rinse the salt off first?

    • Jenny says

      No. The recipe should be prepared, exactly as written. There’s no salt to rinse off of a properly preserved lemon, just as there’s no salt to rinse off of sauerkraut or a sour pickle.

  3. says

    This looks divine! Rosemary is one of my favorite seasonings and with the fall rolling in I can’t wait to start slow roasting. Thank you so much for the recipe and the beautiful pics! Can’t wait to try it out :)

  4. Janet says

    Yea! I have some preserved lemons (your recipe). I do have a question about the olive oil. I used to cook with it all the time and now am seeing that I should only use it for salad dressings. Does the heating process of this low and slow method not make it oxidize like sautéing would?

    Thank you.

    • Esther says

      I keep wondering this too when I see recipes like this talking about heating olive oil. I thought we weren’t supposed to? I usually make your herbed chicken with ghee (& sometimes the Moroccan chicken recipe). Love them both! :)

  5. Janet says

    Just a quick edit – I wanted to see how you use the chicken all week, but that link goes to holistic squid’s post on fish contamination. :)

  6. Angie says

    Once the fall chill starts to creep into the air here in VT, I like to roast a locally raised chicken & root veggies from our garden on the weekend also. I like how this one comforting meal can turn into several more in the busier days to follow. I usually use leftover meat for a nice pot of chicken noodle soup & maybe in quesadillas. . Wondering how you use it later on in the week also. And please tell me more about how you make broth in your slow cooker- that’s one thing I need to learn to do more of!

  7. Karen says

    I love the photo of the chicken nesting on the vegetables ready to be put into the oven. Can you tell me what size and material baking dish you use to roast it?

  8. says

    I made this for our traditional Sunday roast chicken tonight and it was fantastic! You are absolutely right that this is the best way to cook pastured birds. It made it as tender as the storebought organic birds I sometimes buy, but retained the delicious pastured bird flavor. I’ll never go back to the old way!

    That said, my preserved lemons are salty as the recipe I followed last year called for a lot more salt than yours does. Next winter I’ll try your recipe, but for now I’m accommodating their saltiness by using half the amount. The lemon flavor is still carries through since it is so intense.

  9. Jennifer says

    I see you haven’t commented here for awhile, so I can only hope that you’ll see my question and respond. For a couple of years, I’ve been salting birds a la Zuni Cafe method – afterwards we have cooked them in a variety of ways – spatchcocked and bricked on the grill (pretty good), roasted in a super hot oven (best taste – biggest mess), spatchcocked in the oven (good – still a bit messy – even if you have a self-cleaning oven), rotisserie (routinely good)…. but it’s only been recently that I’ve started buying pastured birds exclusively. From your recipe, it sounds like the extra salt, pre-roast – is akin to the 2 day salting method – which lead me to wonder if you’d ever tried salting a pastured bird for a couple of days before roasting it. I haven’t tried the clay pot method, but am going to do so in the next day or so. I was trying to decide whether to salt the bird today and cook it in a couple of days, or whether to just go ahead and cook according to your directions… it got me thinking about the effects of salting what might be a tougher bird. I’ll probably have to experiment and try salting your way and Zuni Cafe way…but I just wondered if you or anyone else had any experience with this.

    • Bill Shoemaker says

      I’m also committed to Judy Rogers’ salting methods. Last time I did chicken on beer can. Slow roasted sounds good. Have you tried Judy’s salting method with the slow roasting technique?

  10. judith scott says

    finally got around to making this bird yesterday afternoon. off the chain with flavor and deliciousness. next time,however,i’ll stick with
    just the potatoes. open roasting carrots and the long sweet whitish root veggie just didn’t work out for them. they got dried out,tough and not fun to eat. but the rest of this was gorgeous!

    thank you for a full proof roasted chicken recipe.

  11. shauna says

    This was so easy to prepare and so delicious! My new favorite way to roast chicken. I used thyme because it’s what I had on hand, and I also substituted sliced black radish, turnip, carrot and red onion for the potato. They didn’t get dried out (not sure if previous reviewer drizzled her root veggies with olive oil — that did the trick for me, but you could also stir them partway through cooking to make sure they’re coated). The recipe turned out to be very flexible, and the whole house smelled amazing.

  12. says

    Love this blog post. My mom used to cook chicken in a clay pot when I was a kid. I agree lemon, potato and chicken is a great combination. I can’t wait to try your approach. Have you ever tried using a tagine for roasting the chicken? I think I may try your recipe in a tagine. Could be great!

  13. says

    I have been struggling for years with dry, rubbery oven-roast pastured chickens (and the slow cooker wasn’t great either — it would cook them to a mushy sludge…). I tried your recipe tonight and it worked like a charm!! The meat — incl. the breasts! — was succulent, the salty skin golden and crunchy, and the potatoes were caramelized in a lemony-garlicky syrup. My family was delirious! Thank you! Best regards, Conner (Boulder, CO)

  14. Natasha says

    Hi Jenny– live your blog

    Wondering what the increase in cook time if I doubled the recipe

    Thanks in advance!

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