"Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" Roasted Chicken

For some obscure reason I always have a song stuck in my head. Maybe because I am always listening to music whatever I am doing. I used to have speakers at my desk at work just to have music on in the background. Even if the TV is on in the living room one room away, I will turn on my iPod while cooking in the kitchen. I always have a radio station tuned while driving. Hell, I have the TV tuned to a music station as I type right this right now.

But listening to music has never been an inspiration in cooking for me. As in, I don't hear music and say,  "damn, that Frank Sinatra song inspired me to make a mean Bolognese sauce". If you are like me and actually pay attention to lyrics, you will understand most are written about love, sex, drugs, tangents, dreams (you get the point) - not, in fact FOOD. Only exception in my book would be Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger in Paradise", and although the whole song is devoted to a time, place, and feeling about a cheeseburger, it never once has drawn me to either eat one or make one.

But last week, while driving to the supermarket, changing the radio channels as I always do, one extremely random yet specific line from Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" played across the airwaves. The line: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme.

To be honest, I don't even like Simon and Garfunkel, let alone do I know any words to the song, even more I don't even know what the song means. Except I know that line.

But, I realized as familiar as I was with the line from the song and the herbs themselves, I hadn't, to my knowledge, ever cooked with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme all together at once. So, with "chicken" on my list of grocery items to pick up and a garden overflowing with the "fabulous four" team of herbs, I decided to make a lovely compound butter to rub under the skin and add a little lemon and shallot as well.

And for the first time, I turned to a song for culinary inspiration.


1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp sage, finely chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon, separated
2 sticks (8 oz) butter, completely soft at room temperature
1 small roasting chicken (giblet package removed if included)
salt and pepper

special equipment: roasting rack (optional)

Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, lemon zest, and shallot
Preheat oven to 425F.

In a bowl, combine parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, shallot, lemon zest, lemon juice, and butter using either a whisk or a plastic spatula (can also be done in a food processor). Blend until smoothly incorporated.

Compound butter using herbs, lemon zest, and shallot
Carefully run your fingers between the chicken skin and breast meat, separating the two from each other to create a pocket. Move your hands gently down toward the drumsticks, using the same technique. 

Using spoon, spatula, or hands, smear herb butter underneath skin, moving butter down to the drumsticks, making sure that the butter is evenly distributed on the chicken meat under the skin. Any left over butter can be lightly smeared on the top of the skin. Season generously with salt and pepper. (Place the excess lemon in the cavity of the chicken, and truss the chicken if you want but it isn't necessary).

Place the chicken on the roasting rack or straight into roasting pan and place in oven for 20 minutes, allowing the skin to slightly brown and crisp up. Turn down the oven heat to 350F and roast the chicken for 1 hr 15 mins or until thermometer inserted between the thigh and body of the chicken reads 160F. Remove chicken from oven and cover loosely with foil for 10 minutes to allow juices to settle. Serve as desired.

All in all, this chicken was simply divine. Easy enough for a weekday dinner, but even better as leftovers the next day.


  1. Can never go wrong with herbs you used to season the roast. Yummy!

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