You'll use a lot of butter in this recipe—and get your hands messy in the process—but it's totally worth it for the end result: crispy, crackly skin and citrusy, buttery meat, infused with a hint of thyme. There's no need to create a side dish, because the veggies roast right in the pan. You can roast them on a separate baking sheet if you like, but make sure you use a roasting rack to help the air circulate under the chickens.
NOTE: Reserve the second chicken for the next night's dinner, Open-Face Cheesy Chicken Tacos.
- 1 pound carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 large fennel bulb, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 large onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 3 lemons
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 whole chickens, about 5 pounds each
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In the bottom of a large roasting pan, scatter the carrots, fennel, and onion in an even layer
Zest two of the lemons. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper with the softened butter, mixing thoroughly.
Rinse and pat dry one of the chickens and place it in one side of the pan on top of the vegetables. Rub the butter mixture all over and inside the chicken, making sure to rub the butter under the skin, too. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze one of the lemons all over the chicken. Stuff the lemon halves inside the chicken cavity.
Rinse and pat dry the second chicken and place it on the other side of the pan on top of the vegetables. Season it liberally all over and inside the cavity with salt and pepper. Cut the remaining lemon in half and squeeze it all over the chicken. Stuff the halves inside the chicken cavity.
Roast the chickens and vegetables for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Let the lemon-thyme chicken rest for a few minutes, then carve and serve with the vegetables. Reserve the second chicken for the next night's dinner, Open-Face Cheesy Chicken Tacos.