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Roast Chicken with Sage, Garlic, & Lemon


Serves 4


1 chicken, about 4 1/2 pounds

several springs of fresh sage, approximately 20 to 25 leaves

1 lemon

4 to 6 cloves of garlic

2 shallots, finely diced

1 stick and 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter at room temperature

leaves from 8 to 10 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley (also called Italian parsley)

2 small onions, quartered

extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups of white wine

3 cups of chicken stock

additional unsalted butter

fried sage leaves for garnish


Pat chicken dry with paper towels (you can first rinse the chicken and then truss it, if you prefer).

The first step is to make a sage compound butter.  Zest the lemon with a microplane zester, (if you use a vegetable peeler, avoid the white pith and finely chop the strips of lemon peel). Reserve the peeled lemon and 1/2 of the zest. Finely chop 1/2 of the garlic, the flat-leaf parsley and most of the sage leaves.  Save several sage leaves and all of the stems. 

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pan over low heat.  Add the shallots with a pinch of salt and sauté until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Add the garlic and chopped sage.  Stir and sauté until the garlic starts to turn a light golden brown, about 1 or 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.  Then combine with the parsley, 1/2 of the lemon zest and the stick of room temperature butter in a food processor.  Pulse the mixture until it is combined. (If a food processor is not available you can combine all of the ingredients in a bowl with a fork.)  Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed.  If you are not going to use the compound butter immediately, you can transfer it to a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper, roil it into a log about 1” thick.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze for about a month.

Using your fingers,(a silicon spatula also works well) loosen the skin of the chicken from the breasts and slide most of the compound butter under the skin.  Use your hand to spread the compound butter evenly.  You can also slide the reserved sage leaves under the skin as well. Season the cavity with salt and pepper.  Quarter the reserved lemon and place it into the cavity, along with the quartered onions, and the reserved sage stems. Rub the remainder of the compound butter on the skin of the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover the chicken in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.  Remove from the refrigerator and let the chicken come to room temperature, about 20 to 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 450º F.  Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and roast the chicken for 20 minutes at 450º F, then reduce the oven temperature to 375º F and continue to roast the chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bones, reads 165º F, about 45 to 60 minutes  The time will vary depending on the size of the chicken and the actual temperature of your oven.  When the chicken is done, the skin should be a dark golden color and the juices that come from the thigh when pricked, and the cavity when you tilt the chicken, should be clear and not rosy.  

Remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for 15 minutes. While the chicken is resting, remove most of the fat from the roasting pan and place it over 2 burners on your stove on medium-high heat.  Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits.  Transfer to a sauce pan and boil until the wine is a syrupy glaze.  Add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken stock and continue to boil it is also reduced to a bubbling glaze.  Then add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and continue boiling until it is reduced to about 1 cup.  Remove from the heat and add several tablespoons of butter, to taste.  Swirl or mix the butter until it is incorporated into the sauce.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve with the chicken with roasted carrots and fennel, the sauce, and garnish with fried sage leaves, or what ever you enjoy.

Wine suggestions:

White: an unoaked or lightly oaked Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, or a Viognier 

Red: a Beaujolais from any Cru, or perhaps a dry Rosé from Provence, a Valpolicella, or anything you enjoy, it is hard to go wrong with roast chicken