Simple roasted chicken with safflower and lemons, or how I like to celebrate the start of Daylight Savings Time.

Roasted Chicken with Safflower and Lemons

While I know it’s easy to hate the switchover to Daylight Savings Time because of losing an hour of sleep, I have to admit that I don’t hate it at all and now that we’ve moved back into the Mid-Atlantic, I kind of love it. Sunset on Sunday following the change was after 7:00 which is nothing short of extraordinary. Admittedly I am usually very in favor of this change because as a food blogger who likes to take pictures of the food we eat in natural light (and much preferring to do so when we actually cook it), being able to do so in the beginning of March feels downright heady. I can’t wait to see how bright it gets here in the summertime.

It’s fitting, then, that on the first day of extended daylight we make a roasted chicken that’s so bright and sunny itself thanks to the use of saffron and lemon. It’s a recipe from Saveur that’s incredibly simple with an extremely short ingredient list, but it creates such a savory and juicy chicken that even adding some potatoes to the roasting pan made them delicious by association.

I have to be truthful, though–we don’t actually use saffron in this recipe. Well, not the real stuff from Spain or Iran; rather, we use American safflower stamens because they are a much more reasonable (read: less expensive) alternative for this application. The saffron is ground together with salt and pepper to make a seasoning rub that will then be blasted in a 400-degree oven, and it feels almost wasteful to use the pure stuff that way. Real saffron should be gently bloomed and added to things like paella and noodle dishes if you ask me–it’s too expensive to be messed around with too much.

Michael likes to add some butter under the skin of the breast when he makes roasted chickens usually, and the addition here is a nice one–especially if you do decide to cut up a potato and add it to the party. It’s completely optional, but for me it makes the breast meat far more tender and delectable.

Roasted Chicken with Safflower and Lemons
slightly adapted from Saveur

1 tsp safflower stamens
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 chicken (3 1/2 to 4 lbs is a good size)
6 sprigs rosemary
1 lemon thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces (optional)
1 small potato, cut into wedges (optional)
Butcher string for tying the legs together

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Gently slide your fingers under the skin of the chicken breast to make pockets on either side. Heat a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat and toast the safflower threads for a minute or two and then transfer to a mortar and pestle with the salt and pepper. Grind everything together until it becomes a coarse powder, and then use that to season the chicken both over and under the skin and inside the cavity. Add the butter under the skin if desired, and then place the lemon slices and rosemary sprigs both in the cavity of the chicken and under the skin. Tie the legs together using the string, tuck the wings under and place in a roasting pan with the potatoes (again, if desired). Roast the bird for about an hour or until the thigh meat reads at 165 degrees on a digital thermometer, and then let rest for about 10 minutes prior to carving.

Serve with a crisp white wine, such as an Albariño or Xarello, along with some crusty bread and a big green salad.

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9 comments
  1. biz319 said:

    I love a good roasted chicken, although for the past several years I have opted to butterfly it so that I don’t inadvertently serve raw chicken. And it cooks in about 50 minutes, which isn’t too bad!

    And I also rub my chicken with softened butter not only under the skin, but all over – chicken skin is the best! Happy Friday – hope you have a great weekend!

    • We’ll switch it up–sometimes we’ll do that, sometimes we’ll use olive oil instead. Butterflying is great too–we’ve definitely done the brick method on the grill before and it does come out really well.

  2. Oh my god I am so ready for this right now!!
    Sooooo reaaaady.
    Thank you for sharing, I do the butter under the skin thing too 😊😊

    And I’m totally with you on the daylight savings time. Fn LOVE IT!!

    • SO MUCH LIGHT NOW. You can sit by me and we can enjoy the extra light together. 🙂

    • Go for it–it’s definitely worth the trouble!

  3. Brianne said:

    Safflower stamens, huh? Are they hard to find? I’ve never heard of them, and I’m intrigued. Good call on making the substitute here, too! Butter is always a plus under the skin–I don’t like actually reaching in and putting it there, but it’s just worth it. We were in the Virgin Islands when Daylight Savings began, and they don’t have it there, so we had already made the jump forward. It was so great to come home to lighter evenings! (And slightly warmer weather!)

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