If in doubt, take it out

I have some sad news to report about one of my Christmas presents. The Terra Cotta Dutch oven unfortunately didn’t produce the results I was hoping for. In fact, I actually had to make an emergency switch to my Le Creuset Dutch Oven about 45 minutes into cooking this Honey Lemon Roaster Chicken.

The reason – it emitted a terrible, perfume-like smell. I followed directions, soaking the clay cooker in water for 15 minutes and not preheating the oven. In the heat of the moment, I didn’t have time to do additional research. Now that I have been doing some Google searches, I see there may be some solutions. It was second-hand, so perhaps the previous owner had a similar issue with it. Worst case scenario, maybe it will make a nice potter for herbs this summer.

Despite having to abort mission mid-way through, the recovery was successful and the end result, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I wish there was a little more zip in the overall flavor of the dish, but served over potatoes with some veggies on the side, this is a nice comfort food dish that will help warm the house on these cold winter nights (while they last).

You will need:

  • 1 (3 ½ to 4 ½-pound) roaster chicken
  • ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Reserve the lemon shell.
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons of salt (I used much less)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter, plus 4 tablespoons, softened at room temperature
  • Fresh oregano and thyme (this is my own addition)
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce (I used 3)
  • 4 tablespoons of flour

If you’re using a clay roaster, you’ll want to prep it by soaking it in cold water for 15 minutes. Wash the chicken inside and out under cool running water, being sure to remove the bag of giblets.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and rub it with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Place the reserved lemon shell inside the chicken cavity and put the chicken in the clay roaster. Brush it with melted butter ((I added fresh oregano and thyme to my butter) and salt and pepper all sides. Cover the roaster and transfer it to a cold oven. Set the oven temperature to 400 degrees and cook for 45 minutes to an hour.

Combine the remaining ¼ cup of lemon juice, 2/3 cup of honey and (1 ½ to 3 tablespoons) soy sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat until heated through. In a small bowl, make a paste from the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and flour. Whisk the butter-flour mixture into the melted honey-lemon butter mixture and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Remove the clay cooker from the oven and pour the honey-butter mixture over the roaster, being sure to cover any exposed areas. Cover the roaster and return it to the oven for another 45 minutes or until it is cooked through and very tender.

Serve this with some mashed potatoes and vegetables, topped with the gravy and you won’t want to leave the couch to do the dishes afterwards.

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