Juicy Lemon-and-Herb Roast Chicken


When opening his eponymous Philadelphia restaurant in 2012, Greg Vernick tested about 60 different brines to find the perfect one for his roast chicken, ultimately selecting a brine that delivers serious oomph through the use of seaweed and soy sauce, which enhance the savory qualities of the dish. Pulling off a restaurant-quality roast chicken at home starts with bagging the best bird you can find. Skip the bulked-up mega-market hens and source a smaller, free-range hen from your local butcher or specialty grocery, such as Whole Foods.

Juicy Lemon-and-Herb Roast Chicken
Photo: Greg DuPree
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
13 hrs



  • 12 cups water

  • 1/2 cup apple cider

  • 1/3 cup kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 5 large garlic cloves, halved

  • 1 (8- x 3-inch) piece kombu (about 1/4 ounces), toasted

  • 10 thyme sprigs

  • 2 rosemary sprigs

  • 1 fresh bay leaf


  • 1 (3-pound) organic whole chicken

  • 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 2 thyme sprigs

  • 2 rosemary sprigs

  • 1 lemon, halved, plus more for serving

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, divided, plus more for greasing

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 (1-ounce) shallot, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Make the brine

  1. Stir together 12 cups water, apple cider, salt, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, kombu, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, stirring constantly, until salt and brown sugar dissolve, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and let brine cool completely, about 2 hours.

Make the chicken

  1. Remove giblets from chicken, and reserve for another use, if desired. Place chicken in Dutch oven with brine. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.

  2. Preheat oven to 300°F. Remove chicken from brine; pat dry with paper towels. Discard brine. Season chicken all over, including inside cavity, with 1 tablespoon salt. Stuff cavity with thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs, lemon halves, and 2 tablespoons butter. Tie legs together with kitchen twine, and tuck wing tips under; transfer to a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Grease one side of 2 large sheets of aluminum foil with butter, and coat with cooking spray. Place foil, butter side down, over chicken, and crimp edges on skillet to seal. Bake in preheated oven until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh registers 150°F, about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Remove chicken from oven. Turn on broiler and allow oven to preheat 5 minutes. Remove foil, and return chicken to oven. Broil until skin is dark golden brown, about 12 minutes.

  3. Remove chicken from skillet, and place on a cutting board; let rest 10 minutes (temperature inside chicken will continue to rise to 165°F). Place skillet on stovetop over medium-high. Add shallot and remaining 2 tablespoons butter to skillet, and cook, stirring often, until butter begins to brown and shallot is tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in parsley, chopped thyme, lemon juice, pepper, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. Carve chicken, and serve with skillet sauce and uncooked lemon halves.

Suggested Pairing

Lemon-edged Carneros Chardonnay: 2016 Saintsbury.

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